Magic 91, Clippers 86
Jameer Nelson scored a season-high 29 points and the Magic clamped down on the Clippers’ big men in the second half of a 91-86 win Tuesday night.
After getting battered by Elton Brand, Tim Thomas and Chris Kaman in the first half, the Magic limited the Clippers’ post players to just eight points and six rebounds in the second half, giving them ample opportunity to rally from a seven-point second-half deficit.
“I thought our guys were just spectacular defensively and rebounding in the second half,” Magic coach Brian Hill. “We were the more physical team in the second half. I thought we contested every pass and every shot. The shots they did make were tough shots.”
Brand had 15 points and Thomas finished with 13, but each of them scored only two points in the second half. Kaman had four points in the final two quarters. They went 4-for-17 from the field in the second half, after hitting 15 of 19 shots from the field the first two periods.
“It was a collective defensive effort,” said Magic forward Tony Battie, who shared defensive responsibilities on Brand with Dwight Howard. “He (Brand) was hitting some tough shots early, but we tried to stay in his face and were able to force him to miss a few.”
“They had beaten us three straight times and I think we wanted to let them know they couldnt bully us,” Nelson said. “We came out first and foremost to play defense and that generated offense for us.”
The Clippers dropped to 2-11 on the road. Los Angeles committed 11 turnovers in the second half and had only two field goals in the final 5 minutes of the game.
“In the first half, we had it going, in the second half we didnt,” Thomas said. “Our turnovers were creating easy points for them. That is what they do best and it got them back in the game.”
Turkoglu hit three straight long-range jumpers, including a 3-pointer, to start the Magic on a 13-6 run in the middle of the fourth quarter. Nelson finished the run with a fastbreak layup that made it 84-75 with 4:15 left.
Cuttino Mobley made a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left to cut it to 89-86 and Magic rookie J.J. Redick threw away the inbounds pass to give Los Angeles one last try at tying it. Thomas got open for a 3-pointer, but shot an airball.
Nelson closed out the scoring with a pair of free throws.
“This was a disappointing game,” Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. “You are playing well, you know what you’re doing, then you get careless with the ball. They just outworked us.”
Clippers guard Sam Cassell missed his fifth straight game with a sore heel. … Ariza is averaging 14.4 points in his last five games. … Brand is shooting 64.4 percent (49-for-76) from the field in his last five games. … Magic guard Carlos Arroyo is 3-for-17 (17.6 percent) from the field in his last four games. … The Clippers, the worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA, went 1-for-4 from behind the line. … Los Angeles is 2-11 on the road this season.