After last night's loss to the Warriors, the Blazers were back at home tonight playing a normal NBA team. The Orlando Magic also played last night, defeating the Sacramento Kings, as tonight's game featured two teams tackling the second game of a back-to-back.
Portland surged ahead in the second quarter and blew it wide open in the third, using 34 assists to lead a smooth and efficient offense. Things never got close in the second half and the Trail Blazers won
The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard with 19 points and 10 assists and CJ McCollum had 18 points. Orlando was led by Victor Oladipo with 18 points.
Orlando jumped to an 11-2 lead early as Portland's guard defense was once again suspect with Evan Fournier and Victor Oladipo scoring early and often for the Magic. CJ McCollum and Al-Farouq Aminu helped right the ship offensively, but Orlando was feisty defensively on Damian Lillard, double-teaming him whenever possible. From Orlando's pressure, the Blazers were able to move the ball as well as they have in some time. Lillard had five of Portland's nine assists in the quarter. Gerald Henderson ended the quarter with a buzzer three to help pad a Portland run that erased the early deficit. The Blazers started a little rocky, but ended the quarter with some nice momentum. Allen Crabbe added six in the quarter off the bench.
End of First: Portland 31, Orlando 24
Portland continued their crisp and efficient ball movement, upping their lead to double digits. Every Blazers field goal seemed to be preceded by an extra pass, Portland ending the half with 20 assists to 26 field goals. Damian Lillard had just two shot attempts in 24 minutes of action but had nine of those assists, telling you everything you needed to know about this game so far. Allen Crabbe continued to find his shot once again, leading the Blazers' bench with 14 points. For Orlando, their shooting dipped to 40% while Portland climbed up to 60%. The Blazers also held a 27-16 rebound advantage, heading into the second half poised for an early kill.
Halftime: Portland 63, Orlando 42
The Blazers jumped to a 76-52 lead midway through the quarter. By this point, four different Blazers had 11 points or more. Things got testy late in the quarter when Orlando's Jason Smith gave Lillard a cheap little elbow off a screen which later led to a hard foul from Ed Davis on a shot attempt from Smith. Davis received a surprising Flagrant 2 and an early dismissal from the game. Portland weathered the disruption and ended the quarter up by a healthy amount. Lillard and McCollum had 16 each for the Blazers.
End of Third: Portland 90, Orlando 65
Portland's starters had plenty of time to catch up on their reading of "Garden to Desert" from the bench as Orlando never got close. Mason Plumlee, nine points and 11 rebounds, just missed a double-double, Allen Crabbe finished with 18 points, Meyers Leonard had 13 of his own and Henderson contributed 11. Portland won the way they should have and now head out for a tough road trip that could help define the rest of their season.
The Blazers hit a crucial two weeks in the schedule starting Monday night at Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder. Tip off is at 5 p.m. Stay tuned to Blazer's Edge tonight, for extended analysis of this game from Dave Deckard.