Before you had time to sit down, the Orlando Magic built a quick lead over the Portland Trail Blazers, then eventually held off a furious comeback for the win, 107-104. Although the Blazers were tired and the Magic were fresh, this loss is pinned on Portland's defense, which left Orlando wide open for repeated three pointers and layups.
Jamal Crawford and LaMarcus Aldridge led a late comeback by the Blazers, finishing with 24 and 23 points, respectively. Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and Gerald Wallace also scored in double figures.
As the Rose Garden faithful entered with their drinks, the Blazers were already behind 8-0, and Nate called timeout. Afterward, the Blazers doubled Dwight Howard successfully... however, that left dead-eye three point shooters wide open. Soon, a Hedo three made it 13-2 as the fans groaned. The Blazers eventually stopped the bleeding but struggled to inch closer, as Orlando nailed open three after open three. The brutal first quarter ended with a 14 point lead.
Orlando's hot three point shooting continued in the second quarter. At one point, Orlando finished a layup with no Blazers within 5 feet... in a half court offensive set. By the time Glen Davis finished a three point play, the lead was 20. How do the Blazers fall behind 20 while shooting 41%? By Orlando shooting 71% and 7-10 from three. The Blazers kept trying to cut the lead, but their defense would betray them. Their defense increased late in the quarter, cutting the lead to 10. Orlando then bumped it back to 15, but Raymond Felton sank a three at the buzzer.
The third quarter began with a reversal: Instead of Orlando hitting threes and the Blazers missing layups, the Blazers missed threes and Orlando hit layups. And then a few threes. Soon the lead was 23, and desperate for some energy, Nate inserted Luke Babbitt. While he didn't score, the Blazers were within 17.
The Blazers made the requisite effort to cut the lead in the fourth quarter, and quickly cut the lead to 10 behind a Wallace three. Orlando's shooting cooled, and the crowd warmed up as the Blazers crawled with within 7 with four minutes left. Then Batum made it 5 with three minutes left. Aldridge cut it to 3 with a jumper at 2:30. But that was as close as they got, as Turkoglu scored 5 quick points to put it away... or so they thought. Portland kept scrapping, and a back-court Matthews steal and dunk brought the Blazers back to within 3 with 32 seconds left. However, a Batum foul helped Orlando hit enough free throws to hold on.
Amaze yourself with the box score here, then stay tuned for Dave's recap and Ben's media row report. The Blazers now hit the road for 6 games, starting with San Antonio Friday night. -- Tim