There were moments in the fourth quarter Friday night when
He threw a lob for a dunk, stole a cross-court pass, spun for a layup and swished a jumper. He topped it all with a quote seemingly straight out of a tall tale for someone who hadn't played in seven of 12 games recently because his coach thought he had better options.
"I feel like nobody can guard me in this league," Stephenson said in all seriousness after helping the
That held true for the Magic, at least, while Stephenson scored 13 points on six-for-six shooting in only 19 minutes as part of another barrage of smallish Clippers players.
Stephenson scored his first points on a 16-foot jumper to end the third quarter and only accelerated from there. He added 11 points and three assists in the fourth quarter amid a variety of highlight plays, all of which the Clippers needed with their primary two backup point guards sidelined by injuries.
"His start to the fourth was just phenomenal," Clippers shooting guard
Redick finished the game with 20 points and
It still probably wasn't going to be enough after Clippers reserve guard Pablo Prigioni crouched in visible discomfort behind a basket during the final seconds of the third quarter, unable to continue playing because of a bruised face. Backup guard Austin Rivers had been in the locker room since tipoff, his throbbing left hand heavily bandaged.
That made Clippers Coach
Stephenson thrived while playing most of the fourth quarter alongside Paul, Crawford,
"We're using him more as a ballhandler so he can create offense and he doesn't really care to score," Doc Rivers said. "He wants to make plays, and that's been good for us."
Austin Rivers sat out the game because of a bone bruise on his left hand suffered during an unfortunate sequence Wednesday against the
Rivers wore a black wrapping around his hand, which he described as "incredibly painful." He said he hoped to play against the Miami Heat on Sunday, and Doc Rivers said he hoped Prigioni could return by then as well.
The Clippers (33-17) keep winning no matter who is on the court. They improved to 17-4 since Blake Griffin was sidelined Dec. 26, the fourth-best record in the NBA over that stretch.
Victor Oladipo had 18 points for the Magic, which made only four of 20 three-pointers and never seemed to recover after Stephenson's shot to end the third quarter.
Stephenson acknowledged the difficulties in playing sparingly for most of the season after the Clippers traded for him last summer. He said teammate
"As soon as he sees me getting out of focus," Stephenson said of the veteran forward, "he'll be like, 'Hey man, what [are] you doing? Just get back to [being] level-headed and keep playing ball.'"
Stephenson has been collected as needed, with the possible exception of one quote.