Was this the last time a Clippers Magic Game would be played with Dwight Howard and Chris Paul on opposite teams? If so it was one worth remembering. Both superstars played lights in the Clippers 107-102 overtime victory on Monday night.
Paul had 29 points and eight assists as the Clippers overcame a 15 point Orlando lead. The win could prove costly though as Chauncey Billups left the game with an Achilles injury.
“It’s bittersweet,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We’ll have to see what happens. Everybody stepped up, but it’s been that kind of season and with Chauncey’s situation, we’ve definitely got to have everybody playing well.
“I’m sick about it. I’m sick for him, I’m sick for us, but mostly for him and how much he means to us. Hopefully, we’ll get some good news tomorrow.”
The game marked the return of Jameer Nelson to the Magic. He turned in a nice 15 point and 12 assist performance which gave the home team a much needed lift offensively. Dwight Howard led the Magic with 33 points. If this was an audition for the Clippers, he really put on a nice show.
“Our guys played hard.” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “The only thing I fault our guys for was the start of the third quarter. The first six minutes, we came with no energy whatsoever. The rest, it’s on me.”
“We’ve got guys who are battle tested,” Paul said. “This shows how much grit and fight we have. We realize if we stick together in a tough environment like this, we are capable of winning games like this.”
The Magic took a 100-96 lead early in the overtime on back to back threes from Jason Richardson and J.J. Redick. It looked like they had seized the momentum but the Clippers then went on a 7-0 run and held the Magic to only 2 points in the last 2:49. Then two offensive rebounds in the final minute sealed the deal for LA.
Jason Richardson had a chance to tie with 13 seconds left but his three pointer rimmed out. “It’s part of basketball. I’m not going to be down on myself—it’s a part of basketball,” Richardson said of his final shot attempt. “Like I said, sometimes it goes in, sometimes it don’t. I’ll take the blame. … I like the pressure. But I tell you what, I don’t miss too many of those.”
The Clippers will soon welcome Kenyon Martin to an already deep roster. He was at the pre game walk through on Monday but did not play. This should ease the pain of losing Billups. This will also allow Blake Griffin to move to the small forward spot where he will be a load for other small forwards to try to stop. These Clippers are already 15-7 and now look as if they are going to get even better. Watch out Kobe, there’s a new sheriff in town.