There were moments in the fourth quarter Friday night when Lance Stephenson looked more like a dynamo unleashed than a fringe player figuring some things out.
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.
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 J.J. Redick said. "Really, they were never in it after that."
Redick finished the game with 20 points and Chris Paul added 21 points and six assists for the Clippers, whose starters all got back into the plus category after four consecutive games in which they had been outscored while on the court.
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan was strong in multiple areas with 12 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks and Jamal Crawford scored 20 points on eight-for-14 shooting off the bench, his third consecutive game with at least 20 points and fourth in his last five games.
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 Doc Rivers seem clairvoyant after he had declared last week that he believed Stephenson would help the team. Did he ever.
Stephenson thrived while playing most of the fourth quarter alongside Paul, Crawford, Wesley Johnson and Jordan. He has now made 19 of 23 shots (82.6%) over his last five games, the best stretch of that length in his six NBA seasons.
"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 Minnesota Timberwolves in which he also received two technical fouls and was ejected.
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 Paul Pierce had helped keep him from falling into a mental funk.
"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.