An unwelcome one? Certainly not. The Blazers played far from stellar basketball against Orlando but ultimately avoided blowing a golden opportunity to fell the Dwight Howard-less Magic, dispatching them 89-85.
Here's what stuck out to me... That final score of 89-85 was reached with 1:21 remaining in the game. Down the stretch, Orlando played with the kind of urgency you'd expect to see at the end of a first or second quarter against a really bad team you're trailing but know you're going to put away in the second half... There were no attempts to foul to stop the clock, the Magic had two timeouts that were left unused, the fans were restless and unexcited... It was only a FOUR point lead! With as close as the game was, 1:21 is an eternity in the NBA, or at least it SHOULD be...
It almost seemed as though from the opening tip, the Magic felt like they didn't have the resources to beat a team of any measurable quality without Dwight Howard in the lineup. The players seemed to feel it, as did the fans, even Stan Van Gundy. Even as the Blazers failed to put the game decisively away, the Magic seemed uninterested in taking advantage.
I never thought I would see a close game between two playoff contending teams fighting for position end quite like this one did, especially at this point in the season. Bizarre.