Clippers' stars likely out again for visit to Orlando

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The Los Angeles Clippers are expected to be without starters Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Patrick Beverley for a third straight game when they visit the Orlando Magic on Friday night.

Leonard and George are sidelined because of COVID-19 health and safety protocols, and Beverley is out due to right knee soreness.

None of the players accompanied the team at the start of the current six-game road trip, which began with a 108-99 loss at the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, snapping the Clippers' seven-game win streak. The trek took a turn for the better when Los Angeles earned a 109-105 win over the Miami Heat on Thursday.

The Clippers trailed by 18 in the first quarter against Miami before outscoring the Heat 29-17 in the second and 40-19 in the third.

Los Angeles made nine 3-pointers in the third quarter but had to hold off a late surge from the Heat.

"We missed three big key players the last two games," Clippers forward Nicolas Batum said. "The (Atlanta) game, we had to adjust, it wasn't easy on offense, but we did a good job (Thursday) night. Guys stepped up."

The Clippers have won 13 straight against Orlando, a stretch that began in January 2014.

Orlando most recently lost to the visiting Sacramento Kings 121-107 on Wednesday night, the type of performance that has caused the Magic to lose nine of 11 following a 6-2 start.

"We have a good enough team to have a good season, but we need everybody every night," Magic coach Steve Clifford said. "There's not a lot of room for error. We can't have five guys play well and four guys not, or six and three or whatever, and that's not easy but that's just the way it is."

Nikola Vucevic continues to be the most consistent player for Orlando. He has scored at least 22 points in each of the past seven games, reaching double figures in rebounds in five of those contests.

The Magic's Evan Fournier is averaging 23 points and 5.4 assists in the five games since returning from a nine-game absence caused of a back injury. Khem Birch collected a career-high 14 rebounds against the Kings, including 10 on the offensive end.

Still, it wasn't enough to beat Sacramento.

"The good thing about this league is that there's a next game up," Birch said. "Hopefully, we can come with more urgency next time."

The Magic continue to be without Michael Carter-Williams (foot), Chuma Okeke (knee) and Al-Farouq Aminu (knee).

The Clippers are expected to start the same players in the backcourt for a third game in a row.

Reggie Jackson, subbing for Beverley at point guard, scored a season-high 20 points against the Hawks, then came back with 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists against the Heat.

Luke Kennard and Terance Mann have also moved into the starting lineup and made key contributions the past two games.

Mann, who played four seasons at Florida State, made half his shots and scored in double figures both Tuesday and Thursday. Kennard produced 13 points and four steals at Atlanta, then added nine points at Miami.

"Of course, we miss Kawhi, PG and Pat Bev, but we're still pro basketball players," Batum said. "We have to show up and show some pride."

--Field Level Media