The Portland Trail Blazers’ Jekyll and Hyde season continued Friday night in Portland. With temperatures well below freezing outside the Moda Center, the Blazers got off to an even colder start in their game against the Orlando Magic.
Following its most impressive victory of the season— a 102-86 drubbing of the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers— the home team turned in a lackluster (and increasingly predictable) effort against the Magic, falling behind 18-1 early.
Portland was able to recover and make it a competitive game, until an inability to stop Orlando down the stretch led to the 115-109 defeat. Damian Lillard led all scorers with 34 points and a team-high eight rebounds, and Nikola Vucevic led the Magic with an impressive 30-point, 10-rebound performance. Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless missed the game with a strained left calf.
Blazers probably won't shoot 28% all game. Magic probably won't shoot 70% all game. But falling behind by 17 isn't easy to overcome.— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) January 14, 2017
Nikola Vucevic is averaging 22.8 points and 12.8 rebounds in 6 career games against the Blazers. He's got 18 and 6 at halftime.— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) January 14, 2017
Familiar— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) January 14, 2017
Every time you think the Blazers are going to turn the corner, they come out flat #RipCity— Chad Doing (@ChadinRipCity) January 14, 2017
Things took a strange turn after the game:
Odd scene in Blazers' locker room: Before leaving, Festus Ezeli approached teammates and exchanged hugs/handshakes. Like he was saying bye.— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) January 14, 2017
More on the Ezeli situation here.
A bright spot for the Blazers: C.J. McCollum scored at least 25 points for the eighth straight game, the second longest streak of that nature in the NBA this season, behind Russell Westbrook’s 10. After the game, McCollum spoke to reporters about the milestone:
Jason Quick of CSN NW wrote about the team’s consistent inconsistency after the game:
In a microcosm of their season, the Blazers went from great to puzzling in the span of one game, falling behind 18-1 before losing 115-109 to the Orlando Magic at the Moda Center. The loss came one game after the Blazers handled the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers 102-86 and proclaimed themselves as turning the corner on their disappointing season.
The Blazers were trying to match their season high with three straight wins, and signs pointed to Friday being a good bet. In the past 11 games, the Blazers have emerged as the fifth best defensive rating in the NBA, and with McCollum and Crabbe shooting lights out and Evan Turner beginning to conduct the offense in an efficient and effective manner, the Blazers figured they were ready to make a late-season push that mirrored last season.
Instead, they were stunned out of the gate by the Magic, who were up 18-1 and 20-3 before many had settled into their seats.
Portland (18-24) has the weekend off before traveling to our nation’s capitol to take on the Washington Wizards (19-19) at 11:00 a.m. PT on Monday, in an MLK Day matinee.