With James Harden on the way, Clippers face Magic

The Los Angeles Clippers will be the center of NBA attention Tuesday night, and it all will be about a player who might not participate in their home game against the Orlando Magic.

Multiple media outlets reported Monday night that the Clippers acquired James Harden in a multiplayer deal with the Philadelphia 76ers. Harden hadn’t played all season after falling out with 76ers general manager Daryl Morey and demanding a deal to the Clippers.

P.J. Tucker and Filip Petrusev reportedly will join Harden in moving from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. The 76ers reportedly received Nicolas Batum, Marcus Morris Sr., Robert Covington, Kenyon Martin Jr., two first-round draft picks, two second-round draft picks and a pick swap.

Given the number of moving parts involved in the swap, it seems highly unlikely that Harden would be available for the Clippers on Tuesday. And even if he were able to suit up, his new team might want to assess his fitness levels in a practice setting first before playing him given his recent inactivity.

Whoever takes the floor for the Clippers will attempt to restore the team’s history of success against the Orlando Magic. Los Angeles beat Orlando in 14 consecutive meetings from Jan. 6, 2014 to Jan. 29, 2021.

The series began to change when Orlando won in Los Angeles on March 30, 2021. Now the Magic are looking to beat the Clippers for the fourth time in six meetings when the clubs face off Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

Orlando won both of last season’s meetings and has won two of its last three in Los Angeles. And though the contest will represent the second part of a road back-to-back, the Magic didn’t have to travel after losing 106-103 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night on the same floor.

In fact, Magic coach Jamahl Mosley is glad there is no rest day between the games.

“That’s the great part of the league,” Mosley said after the Monday loss. “You tell the guys in the locker room, ‘Let it sting for tonight, but we’ve got to bounce right back for tomorrow.’ “

The Clippers should be a fierce opponent for the Magic based on their latest game.

Los Angeles built a 19-point halftime lead on Sunday while rolling to a 123-83 victory over the visiting San Antonio Spurs. The Clippers forced 25 turnovers and registered a 54-30 edge in points in the paint.

“That’s just who we always should have been,” said Clippers forward Paul George, who had 19 points, five assists and five steals against San Antonio. “With the defense that we have on this team, we should have always been a team that played and established that intensity from the jump. So that’s just how we got to play. That’s who we got to be.”

Los Angeles was led by Kawhi Leonard’s 21 points. Russell Westbrook added 19 points, shooting 8-for-13 from the field.

George leads the Clippers with a 27.3 scoring average. Leonard is second at 23 per game.

Orlando is hoping forward Paolo Banchero, the Rookie of the Year last season, can get his offense clicking on Tuesday.

Banchero had just nine points on 4-of-14 shooting in Monday’s loss. He is averaging 11.7 points on 37.5 percent shooting (12-for-32).

Last season, Banchero averaged 20 points per game while being an immediate difference-maker. Still, Mosley isn’t concerned about Banchero’s offense based on a three-game stretch at the start of the season.

“The great part about Paolo is he’s a winner and he’s trying to find ways to win,” Mosley said. “Whether he’s making shots, whether he’s helping rebound, whether he’s defending, he’s doing all the little things in order to put his teammates into the right position to be successful.

“I don’t worry about his shots. He’s doing the right things to make winning plays for this team.”

Gary Harris led Orlando with 17 points off the bench against the Lakers. He shot 5-for-5 from 3-point range while making all six of his field-goal attempts.