The Blazers were led by the old timers, LaMarcus Aldridge (36 points, 9 rebounds), Nicolas Batum (a triple-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists) and Wesley Matthews (a fourth-quarter-dominating 17 points with 5 rebounds and 4 assists).
First Quarter: The Blazers came out aggressive early, pulling ahead by 8 points in the opening minutes. But just like recent games, their defense gave up the entire lead quickly. Orlando found points from open spots, tying the game and forcing Coach Terry Stotts to go to his secret weapon: CJ McCollum, getting his first minutes in an NBA game. Unfortunately his quarter was quiet, tallying only one ugly turnover.
Portland 24, Orlando 24.
Second Quarter: CJ got on the board with a jumper, only for the Blazers to give up 4 quick points to fall behind.
Portland's shoddy defense continued, as Orlando scored on possession after possession, and at the other end, the Blazer shots still weren't falling. Orlando soon had a 9 point lead at the halfway point of the quarter. Then 12, after the second of back-to-back three-pointers. The crowd groaned, the online community melted down, and the Blazers looked visibly frustrated on the court. Lillard hadn't scored, Orlando was getting offensive rebounds whenever they missed (often purely due to lucky bounces), and the Blazers were even missing open shots. Aldridge took over to keep the game in single digits.
Orlando 51, Portland 45
Third Quarter: It took two minutes for Aldridge to lead the Blazers into a tie game. Unfortunately it also took two more minutes for the Blazers to fall behind by more than 5 points again. Portland's defense let the Magic get into comfortable positions on the court, and they took advantage. Meanwhile, again, there was a lid over the hoop on the Blazer end. By the halfway point, Portland was behind by 9 again. Finally, the Blazers came alive, shutting down the Magic and scoring 7 quick points to tie the game. However, Orlando promptly hit a three out of the timeout, followed by a Mo Williams pass to Orlando, compounded with a foul on the break. Orlando easily scored 7 straight to restore their lead. Mo hit a three-point play to keep the score close heading into the fourth.
Orlando 75, Portland 71
Fourth Quarter: As Thomas Robinson hops off the bench into the game, Wesley Matthews said hello to Orlando! He picked up his aggression, leading to good stuff at both ends and a quick Blazer lead. Orlando worked to keep it clos--- Lillard for three. Orlando hit free throws, and Joel Freeland nailed a jumper. Orlando says we can do tha-- Mo for three. Orlando said no problem, we can handl-- steal and a Thomas Robinson layup. The Magic said "no mas" and called a timeout, down 8. Aldridge made it 10 out of the timeout. Orlando was ready to make a run-- Lillard for three. Goodnight Orlando, as Robinson had a triumphant return to the lineup, putting in overtime late to prevent Batum's triple-double. He was unsuccessful.
I'd be remiss without noting Victor Oladipo's amazing block of a Lillard dunk, back when Orlando still had hopes:
(A quick thanks to BE author Dane Carbaugh for the gifs!)
A nice break at home for the Blazers, some rest, practice and adjustments. They play again Saturday night against the Boston Celtics, followed by another nice break. Stay tuned tonight though, Ben and Dave have much more from this game later tonight.
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