LaMarcus Aldridge had 31 points and 10 rebounds, Damian Lillard had 18 points, but the Portland Trail Blazers fell to pieces in the fourth quarter against the Orlando Magic, 111-104 Friday night at the Amway Center.
The first quarter was a thing of horror for the Blazers. Orlando, the 28th ranked team in offensive rebounds in the NBA, grabbed six of them. Portland committed six turnovers, three of them in the first three minutes of the game. At one point, the Magic had taken ten more shots. Yet, Portland hung around due to the Magic shooting just 37% from the field. Nicolas Batum led the Blazers with six points, and despite an ugly start, Portland trailed by just six after one.
Orlando got their lead out to 13 in the second quarter behind the play of their bench. Despite missing four players due to injury, including starters Tobias Harris and DeWayne Dedmon, players such as Andrew Nicholson, Kyle O'Quinn, and former Oregon Duck Luke Ridnour delivered the damage to Portland's second unit. Lillard subbed back in early, and immediately went to work. Lillard scored 14 in the period, including 8-of-8 from the free throw line as the Blazers rallied. Robin Lopez added eight in the quarter, and Portland shot 15 free throws in the second quarter, hitting 14 of them. With Lillard scoring on an and-one with under a second remaining before halftime, the Blazers trailed by just two at the break.
During the second quarter, Chris Kaman suffered a shoulder strain, and did not return.
The third quarter belonged entirely to Aldridge. He hit two threes early in the period to give Portland the lead, and followed it up with 12 more points for 18 in the period as the Blazers seized the lead from the Magic. Aldridge outscored the Magic in the period by himself (18-17). With under five seconds remaining in the quarter, Aldridge grabbed his 5,340th career rebound, passing Clyde Drexler for the most rebounds in Portland Trail Blazers history. Behind his efforts, the Blazers led by six after three.
For the second game in a row, everything fell apart in the final quarter. Portland hit just three of its first eleven shots, and Orlando grabbed seven offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter alone. Two of them came from point guard Elfrid Payton in a forest of Trail Blazers. Combined with some more turnovers and early foul trouble, Orlando was able to put the game out of reach.
CJ McCollum led the bench with fifteen points. Portland starters other than Aldridge or Lillard combined for just 25 points. Batum finished with eight points and eleven rebounds. Payton became the first rookie since 1997 to record back-to-back triple-doubles in his rookie season. He finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists for the Magic.
Chris Kaman just said it best. "We needed this game and we just come in here and lay an egg." Blazers— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) March 21, 2015
Speaking of Kaman...said he thinks he hurt his shoulder in the first quarter. Said its sore now. Unsure if he'll play vs MEM #Blazers— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) March 21, 2015