NBA fines Magic coach Steve Clifford after ‘verbally abusing’ officials in Knicks loss

The NBA fined Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford $25,000 after “verbally abusing” officials in their 105-103 loss to the New York Knicks on Thursday, the league announced on Friday night.

Clifford became upset at the end of the game at Madison Square Garden after he tried unsuccessfully to call a timeout right before time expired, something that could’ve given the Magic one last chance to win the game.

After he wasn’t granted the timeout, however, Clifford had a few choice words for the officiating crew as he walked away.

Clifford lit up the officiating crew after the game, too. 

“There’s three of them,” Clifford said, via Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press. “There’s a guy on the baseline and I just saw it. I mean, visibly I called timeout. I don’t understand how that timeout’s not called. That may cost me, I don’t care.

“Like, again, when players don't have awareness, you lose. Coaches have poor awareness, that was my fault tonight, you lose. The officials got to have awareness, too. Knowing the rules and knowing the game, and knowing the situation's got to be part of it.”

The loss marked the seventh for the Magic in their last eight games. 

The Knicks jumped out to an early 13-point lead in the first half, but saw that advantage quickly disappear in the third quarter after the Magic outscored them by 14 points. Orlando pushed its lead to double digits early in the final period, but it didn’t last long, as the Knicks mounted a massive 13-4 run to get right back in it. 

Nikola Vucevic hit a 3-pointer with fewer than two minutes left, and then Markelle Fultz hit a pair of free throws to bring the Magic back within two, but it wasn’t enough. The Knicks picked up the two-point win, their third straight.

Julius Randle led the Knicks with 22 points and eight rebounds, shooting 10-of-16 from the field. Taj Gibson added 19 points, and Elfrid Payton finished with 15 points and nine assists.

Vucevic led the Magic with 25 points and eight rebounds, shooting 9-of-13 from the field. Fultz, Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon all added 16 points in the loss. 

Steve Clifford had a few choice words for the officiating crew at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night. (AP/John Raoux)

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