The Orlando Magic opened the NBA restart with a 99-90 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in a 40-minute scrimmage at The Arena on the campus of ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World.
With no fans present, the game was dominated by squeaking shoes, players calling out defensive switches and stretches of silence. But those sounds mark the new normal for NBA, which played a game for the first time since March 11.
Nikola Vucevic (18 points), Michael Carter-Williams (16 points) and Aaron Gordon (13 points) provided big offensive games as they combined to go 19-of-33 from the field to lead the Magic. Vucevic also grabbed 10 rebounds to finish with a double-double.
Evan Fournier, the team’s second-leading scorer this season, went 0-for-5 from the field and wound up with two points. He had missed three straight games with an elbow injury before the shutdown.
Still, the Magic, for the most part, made good decisions and executed their sets on offense while also taking what the defense gave them. They found creases in the paint and made cuts to the basket and into space for high-percentage shot attempts. Their subpar 3-point shooting (5 of 28, 17.9%) otherwise blurred the results.
The Clippers dominated the 3-point game, outscoring Orlando 48-15 from behind the arc.
Lou Williams and Paul George led the Clippers with 22 and 18 points, respectively.
As he said before the game, Magic coach Steve Clifford kept his starters under the 21-minute threshold. The starting five of Vucevic, Gordon, Fournier D.J. Augustin and James Ennis played most of the first quarter, with Gordon and Vucevic staying in the game until the 1:27 mark.
Reserve center Mo Bamba didn’t enter the game until the 2:06 mark left in the third quarter and played six minutes. Clifford said Tuesday that Bamba, who added about 20 pounds while the season was shut down, has only been able to play five- and six-minute stretches in 5-on-5 situations.
Bamba finished with two points and two rebounds. He also blocked a shot that led to a fast-break layup by Carter-Williams.
The Magic played without starting point guard Markelle Fultz, who continues to work himself back into better playing shape after a late arrival on the Disney campus. Forward Jonathan Isaac, who is working his way back from a Jan. 1 knee injury, also was not available.
The Clippers, meanwhile, played without Montrezl Harrell, Ivica Zubacs, Landry Shamet and Patrick Beverley.
Terrence Ross scored six points to key a 12-3 run to close the first quarter, and the Magic pushed their lead to 34-26 on a Carter-Williams stepback jumper. But the Clippers began to heat up from the perimeter, and their 3-point shooting provided the big boost as they outscored the Magic 27-8 over the final 7:32 of the second quarter. Los Angeles led 53-42 at halftime, with a 27-6 scoring advantage from the 3-point line the biggest reason for that 11-point edge.
The Magic resume their scrimmage play on Saturday when they take on the Los Angeles Lakers at noon. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Florida and NBA TV.
Check back for updates to this story.
This story first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com.
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