The Los Angeles Clippers Summer League team allowed the last five points in regulation to the Orlando Magic, and Magic rookie SG Mario Hezonja hit a deep three in the final minute of overtime to give the Magic a 75-74 victory in the Orlando Summer League opener.
The Magic were led by second-year SF Aaron Gordon, who scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in the first half, while adding a game-high 18 rebounds and two blocked shots.
The Clippers were down big early, as Gordon hit jump shot after jump shot to help the Magic start the game with an 18-2 lead.
The Clippers did well to close the gap to five by halftime, getting a big lift from rookie PF Branden Dawson. While public interest on starting PF Royce White remains high, Dawson made his presence felt off the bench. While White failed to score or grab a rebound in nearly 13 minutes, Dawson led the Clippers with 14 points and 14 rebounds in nearly 27 minutes. While Dawson’s shot is really bad (“work in progress” doesn’t do it any justice), he showed supreme athleticism and energy on both ends of the floor and in transition.
The Clippers ended the 3rd quarter with a 54-53 lead, as SF Amath M’Baye hitting two of his three three-pointers in the period. The Clippers led 72-67 with 2:00 left after Dawson finished a fastbreak with a slam. But the Clippers failed to score again in regulation, while Gordon made one of two FTs to tie the game at 72 with 35.1 seconds left in the 4th quarter. Both teams failed to score on two possessions each to end regulation: Clippers SG C.J. Wilcox airmailed a floater, Magic PG Elfrid Payton couldn’t shake 7’2″ Clippers C Liam McMorrow, McMorrow mishandled an inbound pass with 0.8 seconds left, and Magic PF Jordan Morgan missed a three.
In overtime, Wilcox made a reverse layup that served as the only Clippers points of the extra period. It was almost enough, but Hezonja made sure the Magic weren’t blanked in overtime with his deep three. Hezonja, the fifth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, finished with 12 points off the bench.
The Clippers had their chances in the end. Wilcox missed a quick jumper with 9.4 seconds left; Wilcox (5/15 FGs, 1/6 3s, 13 points) and PG Nate Wolters (6/15 FGs, 0/3 3s, 12 points) struggled with their shooting in this one. Gordon rebounded Wilcox’s final miss and was fouled by McMorrow (who played well off the bench but ended up with eight fouls in just under 22 minutes). Gordon missed both FTs, but M’Baye threw a pass right to Payton to end the game.
Besides Wolters, Wilcox, and White, the Clippers started the game with SF Jordan Hamilton (11 points on 5/11 FGs) and C Yanick Moreira (two blocks, but outplayed by McMorrow). Besides M’Baye, Dawson, and McMorrow, PG Diante Garrett appeared off the Clippers bench (six assists in just under 20 minutes).
The Clippers play again Sunday at 10 a.m., PST against the Detroit Pistons, who lost to the secondary Magic Summer League team 87-76.