Clippers-Magic Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 05, 2013
Already without Chris Paul, the slumping Los Angeles Clippers could be in for an even rougher road ahead with Blake Griffin hurt, too. They aren't likely to get much sympathy from the injury-plagued Orlando Magic. With Griffin uncertain to be available for a second straight game, the visiting Clippers try to get back on track Wednesday night against a Magic team that's dropped 21 of 23. One of the two wins, however, came at Los Angeles on Jan. 12. That 104-101 victory was the Magic's 10th in the last 11 matchups. That defeat ultimately proved plenty costly for the Clippers (34-16), who lost Paul to a bruised right kneecap with 54 seconds remaining. While Paul returned following a three-game absence, he re-aggravated the injury in a 106-99 loss at Golden State on Jan. 21 and hasn't played since. Los Angeles, which including that defeat has dropped seven of nine, suffered another big blow Monday when Griffin was a last-minute scratch due to a strained left hamstring. The three-time all-Star, averaging team highs of 18.5 points and 8.6 rebounds, had his streak of 197 consecutive games played end as the Clippers lost 98-90 at Washington. "It's frustrating because we're giving back a lot of what we had built up earlier in the season," said coach Vinny Del Negro, whose team is halfway through a season-high eight-game road trip. "But you can't control the injuries, you can't control the schedule, you can't control so many guys being out." Jamal Crawford scored 28 points off the bench Monday and DeAndre Jordan had a career-high 22 rebounds, but Los Angeles committed 20 turnovers to the Wizards' 13. "When you're a championship-level team, you have high expectations," Crawford said. "And we do, no matter who's in and who's out. Obviously we're missing some of our better players, but no excuse." Orlando (14-34) can surely relate to what Los Angeles is going through. The Magic's top four scorers - Arron Afflalo (strained calf), J.J. Redick (sore shoulder), Glen Davis (broken foot) and Jameer Nelson (bruised forearm) - were all out Monday as the team's skid reached 10 with a 78-61 loss at Philadelphia. E'Twaun Moore scored a season high-tying 18 points, but Orlando had its fewest points and lowest shooting percentage (33.8) of the season. Nikola Vucevic grabbed 14 rebounds - he's averaging a league-leading 13.3 since Dec. 14 - but had his streak of consecutive games scoring in double figures snapped at 17. "It's just tough right now because our main scorers and our veteran guys are out right now," Vucevic told the team's official website. "But we're a tough group and we're going to play hard every night no matter what. We haven't been winning a lot of games, but we're playing hard and competing every night. We did that again (Monday) and hopefully we'll start getting some wins soon." While Davis isn't expected back anytime soon, Afflalo, Nelson and Redick are all uncertain to be available Tuesday. "The more (players) we can get back and the healthier that we can get, the better it obviously it is for us," coach Jacque Vaughn said. "We just have to be careful of putting too much pressure on guys coming back." Afflalo posted a season best-tying 30 points and Redick added 21 off the bench against the Clippers last month. Griffin also scored 30 in that game. The Magic, on their second 10-game losing streak of the season, haven't dropped 11 in a row since a 13-game skid March 13-April 10, 2004.
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