The Blazers had a huge lead, lost it, committed 20 turnovers, but managed to hold on to finish their home stand 7-1.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points, Wesley Matthews had 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 steals, and the Portland Trail Blazers fought off the Orlando Magic, 103-92, Saturday night at Moda Center.
The first quarter was nothing short of domination by the Trail Blazers. Aldridge had eight to lead Portland, and after Kaman hit the bench with two early fouls, Meyers Leonard had seven points and four rebounds. The Blazers led by as many as fifteen, and took a 13 point lead into quarter number two, holding the Magic to 5-of-22 shooting and 13 points total. The Magic backcourt of Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo combined to shoot 1-of-10 in the first.
In a twist of year's past, the Blazers bench continued to play well in the second quarter, while the starters fizzled. After extending their lead to 19, Aldridge, Damian Lillard, and Nicolas Batum combined to shoot 1-of-9 in the second quarter. Batum was strong on the defensive end with four blocks in the half, but the Blazers had no answer on the glass for Nikola Vucevic, who scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds in the second quarter alone. Behind Vucevic's play, the Magic closed the gap to five at halftime. Thomas Robinson led the Blazers in scoring in the second quarter with six.
The momentum stayed in Orlando's favor at the start of the second half with Portland committing turnovers on three of their first four possessions and four of their first six. Orlando took the lead, expanding it to as large as four before the teams traded it back and forth. Aldridge had 10 in the period, but Vucevic had 13. Despite the early struggle, Portland led by two after three quarters.
The teams continued to exchange the lead in the final period, with a Lillard three with six minutes remaining giving Portland a five point advantage. The Blazers then committed three straight turnovers, and the Magic re-tied the game. That's when Wesley Matthews stepped up. He hit two free throws, stole the ball and hit Lillard for two more, then stole it again and converted on a 2-on-1 fast break with Batum for a six point advantage.
Damian Lillard finished with 16 points. Leonard led the bench scoring with eleven.
Gameday Thread Comments of the Night
Thanks to all who participated in tonight's Gameday Thread, despite the lure of a Seatlte Seahawks playoff game! Here were the top comments based on number of recommendations:
The Trail Blazers have recorded their best record (29-8) to this point in the season since 1998-99 (29-8).— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) January 11, 2015
"That's what he does. He does it every night. He plays hard, he's a soldier, and that's what we're used to." -- Dame on Wes in the 4th.— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) January 11, 2015
Asked Meyers about letting the ball go into backcourt. "It was a bad play on my part. As I think about tonight's game you throw that out."— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) January 11, 2015