LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers reached a breaking point on New Year's Eve, when a 26-point loss in Oklahoma City, yet another game they played without injured stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, extended their losing streak to six games. Coach Doc Rivers could sense it.
"I thought after the Oklahoma City game, it kind of hit the fan," Rivers said. "They were like, 'Enough. We know we have injuries. Stop making excuses and let's win.' We had to fight (through adversity). We had to face it head on.
"I don't know what the old saying is, but it's something like, 'If you're going through hell, keep going, and you'll get through it.' That's what our guys did. They kept going."
They've barely slowed since, extending their year-opening winning streak to five games with a bench-infused 105-96 victory over the Orlando Magic in Staples Center on Wednesday night.
J.J. Redick scored a team-high 22 points with six rebounds and five assists, Paul had 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and DeAndre Jordan had 10 points and 20 rebounds, his NBA-leading sixth game with 20 rebounds or more.
But it was reserve forward Marreese Speights who scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, making five of six shots and three of four three-point shots, and struggling reserve guard Jamal Crawford who made three free throws to open the fourth quarter for a 76-75 Clippers lead, and reserve point guard Raymond Felton who hit two big driving baskets to keep the Clippers in front.
"The end of the third quarter, beginning of the fourth, the bench was huge for us," Rivers said. "I felt like we couldn't get away from them tonight. Give them credit, they hit some big shots. But Mo and Raymond and that whole group, I thought they were terrific.
A 26-foot shot by Speights, his second of the quarter, gave the Clippers a 95-90 lead with 5 minutes 38 seconds left. Four other starters had returned by that point, and a Redick three-pointer and 16-foot step-back jumper helped push the lead to 100-94 with 1:19 left.
Paul clinched the victory when he dribbled through the lane, underneath the basket and to the left corner, from where he made a three-pointer for a 103-94 lead with 49.8 seconds left.
In addition to his long-range marksmanship, the 6-foot-10, 255-pound Speights showed athleticism inside, taking a pick-and-roll pass from Crawford and dipping under Mario Hezonja for a left-handed scoop shot early in the fourth.