L.A. Clippers at Orlando Magic
February 6, 2013
4:00 p.m. PST
FOX Prime Ticket
The last time the Clippers played the Magic, it didn’t end well for L.A. The Clips led by eight with five minutes remaining, but couldn’t hold on, all capped off by a J.J. Redick three. That was one of the Magic’s two wins in its past 23 games. With no Redick to clinch the game tonight, here’s 3-on-3 with some pregame talk:
1. What’s the Clippers’ most important need at the moment?
Jordan Heimer, (@jordanheimer): Make a note: February 6, 2013, the day the Clippers’ most urgent need was Mean Willie Green. With Bledsoe running the first unit and Blake sidelined, the primary weapons have been Caron isos (surprisingly effective in small doses) and Willie Green 3s. Or, rather, attempted 3s. Green will need to sink a few for the Clippers to win tonight.
Jovan Buha, (@jovanbuha): Health. The Clippers’ paramount concern at this point is fielding a healthy, full team come playoff time. As it stands, three starters are out (arguably the most important three), and the Clippers are being demolished on a long, unforgiving road trip. In terms of on-court needs, some consistent shooting and defensive rotations would be nice.
D.J. Foster, (@fosterdj): Penetration, or at least the threat of it. All those open perimeter looks that come on the heels of Chris Paul probing or demanding such great attention aren’t coming as often, and as a result the Clippers are throwing up 3-for-19 and 4-for-17 performances from behind the arc against teams like Toronto and Washington. The Clippers just aren’t making defenses move.
2. With no Aaron Afflalo or J.J. Redick on the court, who is the Magic player the Clippers should be most concerned with stopping?
Heimer: Vucevic. Why did DeAndre Jordan play 40 minutes against the Wiz? In part, because Lamar Odom was unable to match up one-on-one against either Nene or Emeka Okafor. Expect the Magic’s big – who has surprising touch around the rim – to look to score when DJ is on the bench.
Buha: Nikola Vucevic (or Vucci Mane, as Magic Basketball’s Eddy Rivera likes to call him). Last time he faced the Clippers on Jan. 12, he dropped 18 points and 15 rebounds. The Magic don’t have a lot of offensive weapons, so with Afflalo and Redick out, Vucevic becomes their main threat.
Foster: E’Twaun Moore, if only because he fits the traditional pattern of a relatively unknown shooting guard that lights the Clippers up. It’s hard to have much faith in the Clippers’ wing defenders right now as well, so Moore gets the nod in what has to be the worst starting lineup in the NBA right now.
3. How does DeAndre Jordan follow up his career-high, 22-rebound performance?
Heimer: As impressive as his career-high 22 rebounds were, his 40 minutes on the floor were also a career high. Especially if Lamar Odom continues to struggle against bigger bigs (like Vucevic), DeAndre will finally get a chance to prove he should play at crunch time.
Buha: Well, I’m 99 percent sure he won’t pull down 22 rebounds against Nikola Vucevic. It’d be encouraging to see a better offensive performance from Jordan, as he kind of threw up a dud with Blake Griffin out. A lot will depend on if Griffin plays, but I expect Jordan to assert himself offensively and try to get Vucci in foul trouble.
Foster: He’ll get close to it again. Nic Vucevic has been a beast on the glass for Orlando all year, so there’s a good chance he doesn’t break 22. HOWEVA, the Magic are fresh off a 61-point performance where they shot 33 percent as a team and missed 53 shots. With Blake Griffin out again…anything is possible. Remind me — which player said that again?