The Portland Trail Blazers entered into a new era on Tuesday night. Hours after trading franchise stalwart CJ McCollum to the New Orleans Pelicans, the team was defeated at home by the Orlando Magic by a final score of 113-95, marking the fourth time in the last five games that they were held to less than 100 points. While the end result of the game was largely inconsequential—outside of draft lottery ramifications—there were both positives and negatives to take away from the contest.
The Magic jumped out to a comfortable 15-point lead at the half, but the undermanned Blazers—with just nine active players—scrapped away to trim the deficit to as little as five in the fourth quarter. Orlando exploded from there, as Franz Wagner and Chuma Okeke each connected on a pair of triples in the final minutes to ice the game away. Cole Anthony led all scorers with 23 points for the Magic, in addition to seven rebounds and nine assists. Anfernee Simons paced Portland with 19 points of his own, on 7-17 shooting.
For a quarter-by-quarter breakdown, see our Instant Recap. The following were the key takeaways from the game.
Ultimately, the biggest difference in the game was the vast discrepancy in how the two teams shot the long ball. The Magic shot at an impressive 50% clip (19-38), while the Blazers finished a generous 11-38 (29%), after going just 3-18 in the first half. Orlando had four different players hit at least three or more from beyond the arc, utilizing excellent, unselfish ball movement to find open shooters. They took advantage of a number of Blazer defensive miscues which resulted in late closeouts, but also hit their fair share of tightly contested shots. They were simply in rhythm all night long.
While Anthony led the team in scoring, the Magic also got impressive performances from their starting big men. Mo Bamba was 6-6 from the field in the first half, and while he hardly played after the halftime break, finished with 13 points on 6-8 shooting. He did most of his damage at the rim, but also stepped out to hit a three-pointer of his own.
Wendell Carter Jr., who missed the last meeting between the two teams in January, made up for lost time, shooting a sterling 7-10 from the field for 18 points. He feasted in the midrange, but also connected on a pair of threes, and chipped in eight rebounds, five assists and three blocks in a terrific all-around showing.
Justise Winslow, in just his second game in a Blazer uniform, got out to a tremendous start, establishing himself as one of the team’s primary offensive weapons early. He attacked the rim, worked the ball inside, and showed his outside stroke, but struggled to carry the momentum into the second half. He ended up with 12 points on 5-12 shooting, while also making his mark defensively with a pair of blocks and steals.
Rookie Greg Brown had a career night, but showed he still has a ways to go before being a rotational player on a competitive team. His trademark hustle was on full display, as was his explosive athleticism at the rim, but he got a bit trigger happy from beyond the arc as the game wore on. Brown registered career-highs in minutes (19), points (15) and rebounds (eight), but was just 4-13 from the field, including 2-7 from deep.
Jusuf Nurkic, one of two opening night rotational players to suit up for the team on Tuesday, along with Simons, struggled mightily to get anything going. He had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, but was just 4-16 from the field, despite the vast majority of his attempts coming in the paint. Still, he was able to log 34 minutes and committed just two fouls.
The Blazers host the Los Angeles Lakers, and possibly LeBron James, tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. PT.