Friday, March 24, 2023
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NBA Preview: Orlando Magic (28-42) at Los Angeles Clippers (37-33)

In a Saturday matinee, the visiting Orlando Magic, who are playing the third game of a four-game road trip, welcome the Los Angeles Clippers, who are riding a four-game winning streak.

With a 134-126 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, the Clippers (37-33) moved up to 4-0 on a five-game homestand. Kawhi Leonard scored 30 points, Paul George had 24 points and seven assists, and Ivica Zubac had 19 points and 16 rebounds as Los Angeles successfully countered Stephen Curry’s 50-point effort for the Warriors.

In the victory, Russell Westbrook had 15 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists, close to a triple-double.

In a Western Conference that is highly competitive, Los Angeles moved up to fifth place. Through games played Thursday, only 3 1/2 games isolated the Trimmers in the No. 5 spot from Utah and New Orleans, the last two groups out in the race for the four play-in competition offers.

In contrast, Orlando (28-42), which has lost five of six games since losing to Phoenix on Thursday by a score of 116-113, is losing ground in the race for the final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference. The Magic fell to 0-2 midway through a Western Conference road trip that began on Tuesday with a 132-114 defeat at San Antonio.

Despite Thursday’s loss in Phoenix, Markelle Fultz’s continued strong performance was a positive. He had 25 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds after shooting 11 of 17 from the field.

Fultz missed the initial 21 rounds of the time with a broke toe, however has been in the setup each game since Nov. 30. His third game with 20 or more points in March came on Thursday.

After Wendell Carter Jr.’s 15.3, Franz Wagner’s 18.7, and presumptive Rookie of the Year frontrunner Paolo Banchero’s 20.1 points per game, Fultz’s 13.8 points per game ranks fourth on the Magic.

When the teams last played on Dec. 7, Banchero led the Magic to a 116-111 overtime victory over the Clippers. The rookie scored 23 points, while Leonard and George’s Los Angeles team only managed 25 points.

Leather Head Sports

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