Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers recently lamented his team's effort on defense.
That wasn't a problem in Friday night's victory at the Phoenix Suns.
And it might not be an issue when the Clippers host the offensively-challenged Orlando Magic on Sunday.
Los Angeles (22-16) is coming off a 121-111 win over the Suns that really wasn't that close. The Clippers led by 29 in the second quarter and were in control even as Phoenix scored 67 second-half points.
"We've gotten off to some tough starts, and I just thought it was our defense," Rivers said after the game. "With the way we can score, when we defend, it's hard for anyone to beat us. Second half, we kind of gave it up a little bit, but that's fine."It's a good lesson, though. It tells us what we can be defensively."
Orlando (17-21), like Phoenix, is among the worst offensive teams in the NBA. The Magic average 103.6 points per game -- 27th in the league. That scoring average is where they were Friday night in a 120-103 loss at the Minnesota Timberwolves, despite a blistering start in which they made 26 of their first 34 shots and led by 19 in the first half.
From there, Orlando made 16 of 54 attempts from the field (29.6 percent), showing the kind of inconsistency on both ends of the court that has marked its below-.500 season.
"We were just lazy, undisciplined and soft," said Magic forward Aaron Gordon. "We didn't have it tonight on the defensive end and it's not OK at this point in the season."
It's also not OK, at least from Orlando's perspective, that the Magic have lost 10 consecutive games to the Clippers, including a 120-95 rout in Orlando on Nov. 2. Former Magic big man Tobias Harris had 21 points for Los Angeles in that game. That's his team-leading average for the season -- 21.0 points.
Forward Danilo Gallinari is close behind at 19.6 points per game, followed by guard Lou Williams at 18.6.
Gallinari, in his 11th NBA season, is having his best year from behind the arc, making 87 of 191 attempts (45.5 percent). With versatile skills that fits today's NBA game, the 6-foot-10 veteran pairs nicely with Harris up front.
"One of them always has an advantage," Rivers said on NBA.com.
"That's what we explained (to them) before the year. I said. ... 'There's a small guy guarding one of you and there's a big guy (guarding one of you). The big guy can't guard you because he's too slow. The small guy can't guard you because he's too small. You guys just have to figure that out.' And they do. They do a great job of it."
Orlando is led by center Nikola Vucevic, who is averaging 20.4 points and 11.7 rebounds. He scored 22 Friday night and will try to lead a better team effort against the Clippers.
"Offensively, we have to play smart," he said.
"When things don't go our way, we go away from what works for us. ... None of us are going to become Kevin Durant, Steph Curry or James Harden. The only way we win is by staying efficient and sharing the ball."
Backup point guard Jonathon Simmons (ankle) returned Friday night after missing the first two games of Orlando's six-game road trip that continues Monday night in Sacramento.
Updated January 5, 2019