Magic-Clippers Preview

The Associated Press

Even so-so efforts are leading to victories for the surging Los Angeles Clippers, a luxury the Orlando Magic haven't had during their rough stretch.

Los Angeles looks to extend its franchise-record home winning streak to 14 by sending struggling Orlando to an 11th consecutive defeat Saturday.

The Clippers (28-8) will complete a four-game homestand after defeating Dallas 99-93 on Wednesday despite committing 21 turnovers - their most since a season-high 25 in a home loss to Cleveland on Nov. 5.

Vinny Del Negro, who became the fastest coach in franchise history to earn his 100th victory, knows that type of effort may not yield such positive results moving forward.

"We weren't as consistent as we need to be," Del Negro said. "We had so many turnovers it was hard to get a rhythm offensively. When we're struggling offensively, we've got to lock down defensively.''

The Clippers have won 20 of their last 22 overall and haven't lost at Staples Center since falling to New Orleans on Nov. 26, but they've had trouble taking care of the ball - especially at home.

They've turned it over at least 20 times on five occasions - four in Los Angeles - and rank in the bottom third of the league with 14.7 turnovers per game at home.

When the Clippers give it away 14 times or fewer this season, they're 15-0.

"We know we can play better," said Chris Paul, who had a season-high 16 assists Wednesday and is averaging 25.3 points and 12.7 assists on the homestand. "It's not going to be merry every night."

Paul's 29 points helped Los Angeles end a nine-game losing streak versus Orlando with a 107-102 overtime victory in the teams' lone meeting last season. The Magic (12-23) have won four straight road matchups with the Clippers, though those all came with Dwight Howard in uniform.

They've struggled recently in the absence of another big man, dropping all 10 games since Glen Davis went down with a sprained shoulder Dec. 19.

Orlando is in the midst of its longest losing streak since a 13-game skid from March 13-April 10, 2004, after blowing a nine-point fourth-quarter lead and falling 108-105 at Denver on Wednesday.

The Magic have led at the half five times during the skid and are shooting 50.7 percent in the first half during that stretch. That number drops to 44.1 after the intermission.

"It's tough to lose games, no matter how many you lose in a row, even if it's just one,'' said Jameer Nelson, who has averaged 25.5 points over the last four games. "We just have to stick together.''

Health has been an issue, as Hedo Turkoglu sat Wednesday with soreness in his surgically repaired left hand and guard E'Twaun Moore missed his sixth straight game with a sprained elbow. Both hope to play Saturday, though undrafted rookie DeQuan Jones could make his sixth straight start either way.

Jones scored a career-high 11 points while fellow rookies Andrew Nicholson (12 points) and Maurice Harkless (nine points, six rebounds) also turned in solid efforts Wednesday.

"It was a great effort by them," coach Jacque Vaughn said. "They gave us a lot and they were prepared to play."

Grant Hill (knee) spent six injury-plagued seasons with Orlando from 2000-07 and is expected to make his season debut for the Clippers, who got sixth man Jamal Crawford back Wednesday after he missed the previous two games with a sore left foot.

Los Angeles' bench ranks near the top of the league at 41.2 points per game, led by Crawford's 16.3 and a career-high 11.1 from ex-Magic forward Matt Barnes.

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