Rapid Reaction: Clippers 101, Magic 81
January, 6, 2014
By Arash Markazi | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- Before the Los Angeles Clippers took the court on Monday night for their first home game this season without Chris Paul, their sidelined point guard said he wasn't worried about the team as it embarked on a six-week stretch without him.
"I'm not worried about us," Paul said. "That's the thing about our team, since training camp -- we've done everything in case somebody goes down."
Paul, however, is not just anybody. He's the team's leader. But his teammates backed up Paul's words as the Clippers beat the Orlando Magic 101-81 at Staples Center.
L.A. jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, going up by as many as 35 points and proving that the Clippers might be in good hands, at least in the short term, without Paul.
How it happened: The Clippers jumped out to a 20-3 lead to start the game and were in control the rest of the way. They took a 35-point lead in the third quarter and emptied the bench. Even Darius Morris, who arrived at Staples Center and signed a 10-day contract less than an hour before the game, saw some action.
What it means: It means L.A. might be able to tread water while Paul recovers from his separated shoulder. The Clippers want to remain a top-four seed and win the Pacific Division, and if they play like they did on Monday that is still a possibility -- even if Paul misses 20 games, as anticipated.
Hits: Darren Collison played like a starting point guard, which he will have to be for the next six weeks while Paul is out. He scored 21 points and added six assists and three rebounds in his starting role. DeAndre Jordan continued with his career season, posting 14 points, 17 rebounds and 8 blocks. Blake Griffin also had 16 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists.
Misses: When the Clippers took their starters out with a 35-point lead, Orlando quickly cut that advantage in half, forcing Rivers to play his starters in the fourth quarter. The Clippers are injured but players such as Matt Barnes (five points) and Ryan Hollins (two points) have to bring more to the table when they get playing time late in the game.
Stat of the game: The Clippers were once again solid from the free-throw line, hitting 86.4 percent of their free throws. Griffin and Jordan combined to hit eight of their 11 attempts.
Up next: The Clippers will play the Boston Celtics on Wednesday in Doc Rivers' second and last meeting against his former team this season. Rivers and the Clippers won the first meeting in Boston last month and the Clippers will likely be favored again against the 13-21 Celtics.