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Clippers make comeback, but still fall to Magic, 94-85

Clippers1_300 A loss is a loss. The Clippers know that as well as anyone. But lately, they’ve at least given their fans reason to stay until the final buzzer, or close to it.

Not that their 94-85 loss Sunday to the Orlando Magic came down to the last second, as in recent one-point defeat to the Lakers and Memphis.

In fact, this one looked done in the first half, when the Magic led by 26.

But in the second half, the Magic went cold and the Clippers heated up.

Entering the fourth quarter, the Clippers trailed by just 10, and when rookie forward Blake Griffin slammed in a long-distance alley-oop pass from guard Baron Davis with 9 minutes 1 second left, that deficit stood at six.

That was as close as the Clippers (5-20) would get.

Orlando center Dwight Howard, who was playing with his father, Dwight Sr., among the 18,279 in attendance at Staples Center, missed many free throws down the stretch, but he made enough baskets to score 22 points and help Orlando (16-8) snap a four-game skid.

The Clippers have lost eight straight to Orlando, but proved again that although they can lose to the worst, they can also play with the best.

Really.

The Clippers scored wins against San Antonio and New Orleans when both teams had the NBA’s best record –- the Spurs at 15-2, the Hornets at 11-1 –- and they also beat the up-and-coming Oklahoma City Thunder earlier this season.

Their comeback against the Magic was helped by Howard's sitting on the bench for much of the second half with foul trouble, until late in the game, and by shooting guard Eric Gordon's  finding his shooting touch.

Gordon missed his first seven shots and was just two for 12 in the first half, but finished with a team-high 28 points on nine-for-23 shooting. He hit four of five in the third quarter.  

Turnovers weren’t as big an issue for the Clippers as they were against the Lakers and Grizzlies, games in which they committed 47 combined. Against Orlando, they gave it away only eight times.  

Griffin finished with 27 points and 16 rebounds, more than holding his own against Howard when the two faced each other.

The Clippers leave Tuesday for a three-game road trip, facing Philadelphia on Wednesday, Detroit on Friday and Chicago on Saturday.

-- Baxter Holmes

Photo: Clippers guard Eric Gordon has his reverse layup challenged by Magic guard Vince Carter in the first half Sunday night at Staples Center. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / US Presswire

 
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