Clippers outlast Magic, 100-97, behind big fourth quarter

© Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
The Clippers got redemption in Orlando as they continue a gritty road tour.

The Los Angeles Clippers escaped Orlando with another hard-fought win after barely surviving in Philadelphia.

Star duo Paul George and Kawhi Leonard came up big in the clutch Friday, putting up some dire shots to close out the game. Although, much like Sunday in Philadelphia, the win did not come easy.

LA came out victorious, but only after blowing yet another double-digit lead. Meanwhile Orlando is forced to a three-game losing streak after Friday’s action.

“We did a great job building an 11-point lead, playing good basketball, and then we just got comfortable, turning the ball over, careless passes . . . and allowed them to get back in the game,” said Clippers coach Tyronn Lue. “But I loved our defense tonight. Overall, a tough, gritty win for us. Coming down the stretch, keeping our composure, coming down late in the game and finding a way to win.”

Turning point: The Clippers kept the lead at the end of the first and second quarter. By halftime, their lead was a narrow 52-50. 

Leonard had a huge third quarter, shooting 10-16 from the field and collecting 15 points in the process for LA. That helped LA hold a 85-77 advantage into the fourth. 

After a few one-point lead exchanges, Leonard sank a jumper to put LA up 98-97 with under a minute left. George then connected to turn that lead into a 100-97 win.

What it means: Friday’s win in Orlando moves the Clippers to 15-8 and keeps them in that consistent fourth seed spot in the Western Conference. LA has nine more games before the postseason.

Things continue to look better for the Clippers on the road than at home. The LA team has won seven of their last 10 road games, but are on a five-game skid at Arena and are 2-8 in their last 10 at home.

Hits: Leonard and George were the difference makers Friday night, especially in the final minutes. Leonard scored just four points in the first half before going on to add 25 points across the final two quarters. His jumper gave the Clippers a 98-97 lead with under a minute left to play. 

Then it was Leonard who put the nail in the coffin with another field goal for LA. He capped off a 12 point on 4-14 shooting performance.

Stat of the game: Not to highlight the duo too much, but it should be noted that LA is 5-0 when Leonard or George get over 10 rebounds, including the last two games.

Misses: Not just the Clippers, but both teams collected 17 turnovers Friday. Fortunately for LA, Orlando had just as many fumbles offensively as them, which kept it close.

Up next: The Clippers wrap up their road tour with two more stops in Charlotte and Sacramento. First the team will face the Hornets March 31 for an Easter Sunday showdown, then will take on the Kings Tuesday, April 2.