LOS ANGELES – After riding a four-game win streak, Kawhi Leonard sat on the sidelines to take care of his right knee. On the court, the Clippers could have used their best player as they fell to the Orlando Magic, 113-108.
With Leonard out five Magic players scored in double digits and Russell Westbrook and Paul George were left to clean up the pieces.
Westbrook played the entire fourth quarter in Leonard’s absence, but scored just three points. He finished with 14 points, five rebounds and nine assists. Westbrook went on after the game to say the loss is “on me”.
George scored 30 for the Clippers on 48% shooting.
“No, it didn’t throw us off,” said George of him and Westbrook playing without Leonard. “We practice that way. It wasn’t something that was just thrown at us. We knew Kawhi wasn’t going to play today.”
Leonard averaged 31.5 points per game during the Clippers’ latest win streak.
How it happened: Orlando jumped out scoring on their first three possessions for an 8-0 run until an Eric Gordon three-pointer brought tied the game, 29-29, with under a minute left. The Magic held onto the lead for the entire first half and ended the period leading 57-55.
Despite a third quarter that spurred a 84-72 comeback from the Clippers, they went on to allow 39 points in the final quarter. With only one defensive stop in the last five minutes of the game from Los Angeles, Orlando held on for a 113-108 victory.
What it means: The Clippers will need every win they can get after Saturday’s loss. They are now 37-34 on the season after snapping their win streak, but remain the fifth seed in the Western Conference. The Clippers are only one game away from the play-in and two losses ahead of eleventh place.
Hits: Robert Covington got 23 minutes of playing time for 11 points, three steals and one defensive rebound. Marcus Morris Sr. scored 13 points with three defensive rebounds, one assist and two steals.
Misses: Kawhi Leonard, who has averaged 26.3 points over the last 10 games for Los Angeles, sat out to manage his right knee. Norman Powell and Brandon Boston Jr. continued to miss playing time with shoulder and tailbone injuries, respectively.
Stat of the game: Ivica Zubac grabbed his 3,000th career rebound on his 26th birthday and finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds.
Up next: The Clippers return to action tomorrow at the Moda Center to face off against the Portland Trailblazers. The Trailblazers are seeded 13th in the West at 31-39 and are 17-17 in Portland. The last matchup between the two teams in November resulted in a 118-112 win for the Clippers.