NBA: James Harden’s late defense lifts Clippers past Magic

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Kawhi Leonard scored the last of his game-high 29 points on a go-ahead jumper with 34.1 seconds remaining and the Los Angeles Clippers escaped with a 100-97 road win over the Orlando Magic on Friday.

Playing their second game of a four-game road swing, the Clippers (46-27) struggled with turnovers against a stout Orlando defense. Every Los Angeles player who saw the floor coughed up possession at least once for 17 in total, which the Magic (42-31) converted into a 22-15 advantage in points off turnovers.

The two biggest turnovers of the night were in the Clippers’ favor, however.

Leonard’s basket, which proved to be the game-winner, came off a James Harden steal of Paolo Banchero.

Harden struck again for his fourth and final steal after Los Angeles pulled ahead by one point, intercepting a Banchero pass attempt. That led to a Paul George basket, part of his 12 points, effectively putting the game away with 5.1 seconds to play.

Banchero scored a team-high 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds but committed seven of Orlando’s 17 total turnovers. Franz Wagner finished with 13 points but shot just 5 of 13 from the floor, including 0-for-3 from 3-point range. The last of those misses was when his overtime-forcing effort at the buzzer was no good.

Los Angeles got 14 points and nine rebounds from Ivica Zubac, 11 points from Harden, and 10 points off the bench from Norman Powell. Mason Plumlee added another eight points in reserve duty.

Leonard grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and his five assists matched teammate Russell Westbrook and Orlando’s Jalen Suggs for game high.

Suggs also scored 15 points in the loss. Moritz Wagner scored 12 points off the bench and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.

With the win, Los Angeles improves to 2-0 on its road swing. The Magic dropped their third straight at home and failed to reach 100 points for the second straight game.

–Field Level Media

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