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Magic Outrun Trail Blazers 110-104

02/10/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    LaMarcus Aldridge had another stellar game with 25 points, six rebounds and five assists but it wasn't enough for the Trail Blazers (25-26). The Magic (15-36) out rebounded the Trail Blazers 50-38 en route to a 110-104 win.

    The last game between these two teams was a shootout and the sequel was more of the same. Both teams ended the game shooting over 50 percent from the field and neither team could really stop each other. Wesley Mathews (17 points) and Nicolas Batum (19 points, eight rebounds, six assists) were carrying the load offensively for the Trail Blazers with each scoring 11 points apiece and combining for five three-pointers. Batum's 11 points came in a matter of 1:16 in the second quarter. His personal 11-0 run tied the game late in the second quarter but just as Portland got close, Orlando closed the half on a 9-3 run to give them a six point lead.

    The Trail Blazers were only down six points despite a combined nine points from their two leading scorers, LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard. However, Portland needed to find a way to stop Orlando from beating them on the glass on both ends. Something Portland was not able to do very well against Gustavo Ayon and Nikola Vucevic. Ayon and Vucevic combined for 33 points and 30 rebounds.

    Terry Stotts, needing a spark and sensing the team's energy level was decided to go with Joel Freeland, who's only playing time on the road trip had come at the end of their loss in Houston. Freeland, in meaningful minutes, had a great outing and helped Portland on the glass, on defense and on the offensive end. Freeland showed flashes of the type of player he can be, scoring in the post and making plays as a roll-man in pick and rolls with Lillard. Freeland had 6 points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal in 8:57 at the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth quarter helping cut the lead from 12 to seven. In particular, Freeland and Victor Claver had nice chemistry as both assists for Freeland came on Claver buckets. The Freeland-Claver two man line-up is +10.6 points per 100 possessions in the 57 minutes they've played together this year.

    Portland needed to start hitting their threes at an efficient rate in the fourth quarter to get back in the game as well as stop allowing the Magic to get second chances. Despite Aldridge finding a rhythm, going 9-11 in the second half and scoring 18 points, Portland was just a step slow defensively. Also, it didn't help matters that Lillard's tough night from the field continued as he finished one for 16. He did a nice job of facilitating, collecting 12 assists but his poor night from the field made a comeback much more difficult.

    "I wouldn't say it was my worst game. It was my worst shooting game probably. I thought I got a couple of deflections and I know I had a lot of assists so I still impacted the game somewhat. I just didn't make the shots that I normally do," said Lillard.

    "They (the Magic) executed well," said Terry Stotts. "They scored over 100 in Cleveland (Orlando's previous game) and they scored over 100 against us in Portland. Maybe they play well against us? I don't know. They executed well, I thought their bigs passed the ball well. They changed up their offense to different looks whether it was pick-and-rolls or getting Redick and Afflalo off of screens, so they had a variety of looks. I thought they executed very well."

    Stotts emphasized that the team could have defended better but also commended the Magic for executing. There is no doubt that a team suffering a 12-game winning streak that gets their sixth man and best offensive player back will be motivated. Portland allowed Orlando to play to the strength of their big men and Redick was Redick, scoring 22 points off the bench.   

    For the Trail Blazers, it doesn't get any easier as they head into Miami on Tuesday to face LeBron James and the defending champion Heat. Damian Lillard was positive after the game assessing the road trip.

    "We have two more games on this trip. Miami will be a tough one and New Orleans plays well at home also. It is not like we can't win two games and finish this trip at .500. There are things we can fix. If things were going south that means guys are not playing hard we think that we are better than we are. We have spurts that we just let down and teams take advantage of it."

    Although there are certainly things that need work, Lillard's outlook on the rest of the trip is how the Trail Blazers have to approach their final two games.

    The Trail Blazers face the Heat (34-14) on Tuesday at 4:30. That game will be shown on CSNNW and can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.



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