ORLANDO -- The Los Angeles Clippers’ 107-102 win over the Magic Monday night may appear to be just a close victory against an enigmatic, inconsistent Orlando squad that’s lost five of its last eight games.
But the Clippers overcame more than a few obstacles on their way to the overtime road win.
The Magic jumped out to an early 15-point lead and the Clippers shot just 40 percent in the opening half. The Clippers couldn’t stop Dwight Howard, who finished with 33 points and fouled out both DeAndre Jordan and Reggie Evans late in the game.
And Los Angeles lost its stable veteran, Chauncey Billups, to an Achilles injury in the fourth quarter that may sideline him for weeks, if not the season.
The Clippers didn’t flinch, though, outlasting the Magic in overtime behind heady play from Chris Paul and inspired play on defense and on the boards. Maybe it wasn’t flashy, but these are the types of games NBA title contenders win.
“We haven’t had that on the road much, where we got down early and then fought our way back multiple times,” said Blake Griffin, who had 18 points and 10 boards. “It’s a good sign for us.”
It’s a good sign, especially, because there may be more adversity ahead. Billups’ injury will force him to miss at least little bit of time -- at least everyone hopes it’s just a little bit of time -- and it came in the second game of the Clippers’ six-game Grammy road trip.
This season’s been a lot of fun so far for the young, fun-to-watch Clippers. Now, after their fourth consecutive road win after starting 1-4, the Clippers are gaining confidence that they can win anywhere against anyone.
“We just never give up,” Paul said. “We realize that if we stick together in a tough environment like this -- especially the way they were shooting it -- we are capable of winning these tough games.”
The Clippers are clearly one of the most exciting teams in the NBA. Wins like this can make them one of the best teams in the NBA.