10:30 PM ET, January 6, 2014
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
Whenever the Los Angeles Clippers have Chris Paul on the floor they manage to beat some of the NBA’s top teams. However, things are pretty different when the team plays against a tough rival without Paul.
The lowly Orlando Magic don’t fit into that category, but they’ll be looking for a season romp of Los Angeles tonight at Staples Center after having already beaten the Clippers when Paul was healthy.
The 28 year-old point guard separated his shoulder Friday in the third quarter of a 119-112 victory versus the Dallas Mavericks and the team announced Sunday he’ll miss up to six weeks, though he won’t need surgery.
Paul has been the catalyst for Los Angeles (23-13), averaging 11.2 assists against 2.4 turnovers with 2.5 steals to spark an offense that has hovered around the NBA’s top five in scoring all season.
YouWager experts consider the North Carolina native’s absence was pretty evident in Saturday’s 116-92 defeat versus the San Antonio Spurs. The setback was a near-exact reversal of the Clipper’s 115-92 home victory over the Spurs on Dec. 16. Paul had 23 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals in that game.
In Saturday’s defeat, Los Angeles had no outside touch, matching a season worst with 20.0 percent shooting from 3-point range (3 for 15), and had at least 18 turnovers for only the third time in their last 22 games.
The Clippers fell to 1-1 this season without Paul, who also sat out with a strained hamstring at Sacramento on Nov. 29 — a 104-98 overtime win for L.A.
Jamal Crawford scored 24 points versus San Antonio, Blake Griffin had 19 and Darren Collison added 14 points and six assists starting in place of Paul.
The Clippers gave up 70 points in the opening half versus both Dallas as well as San Antonio. The difference is that with Paul they trailed by three at the break Friday but were down 35 at halftime Saturday.
Orlando (10-23) comes in riding a three-game losing streak as they open a five-game trip that also takes them to Portland, Sacramento, Denver and Dallas. After winning two of their first three games against the Western Conference this season, the Magic have dropped nine straight.
Center Nik Vucevic may not be a problem for Los Angeles this time after he missed his second straight game with an ankle sprain in the Magic’s 110-94 home defeat versus the Miami Heat on Saturday.
Jameer Nelson scored 21 and Tobias Harris added 17 points and 10 rebounds for Orlando. Arron Afflalo, leading the team with 21.2 points per game, had 16 on 5-of-16 shooting to drop his field-goal percentage during the losing streak to 34.7.