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Homestand Ends With Loss To Magic

01/11/12
  1. Written by: KevinHudson

    BY KEVIN HUDSON

    Portland dropped its first home contest of the season Wednesday, falling 107-104 to the Orlando Magic after a near-miraculous fourth-quarter comeback in front of 20,467 at the Rose Garden.

    The Trail Blazers (7-3) fell behind 13-2 early, never led in the game, and trailed by as many as 23 points.

    “They started out on fire. They pretty much got what they wanted,” said Portland coach Nate McMillan. “When we tried to defend the perimeter and stay out and play Howard straight up, he punished us in the paint. It was one of those deals where they got their rhythm, we dug a hole.”

    Orlando (7-3) led by 17 at the start of the final quarter and by 12 with five minutes left to play but the Trail Blazers went on a 17-7 run from that point, capped by Jamal Crawford’s driving lay-up with 20 seconds left to pull within 103-101.

    “We played really well for 38 minutes, and then we were just awful against the presses and traps, and the high pick-and-roll play at the end, but we dominated a good team for 38 minutes,” Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We struggled down the stretch but I thought we played well for the most part.’

    Four consecutive free throws by J.J. Redick and a three-pointer from LaMarcus Aldridge with 2.9 remaining sealed the final margin.

    Crawford said that despite the loss he felt good about the fight he saw from his teammates to come back from such a large deficit.

    “When you play so hard like that, there are good things in your team’s future,” Crawford said. “We didn’t throw in the towel at all. We continued to fight and continued to play hard.”

    Orlando was shooting threes at a 67 percent clip for the first three quarters, then cooled late to finish at 59.3 percent from beyond the arc.

    The Magic still nearly made the Portland history books as their 16 three-pointers came just shy of the most ever against the Trail Blazers (17). Orlando is the third team in the NBA to make 16 threes in a game this season, along with Cleveland and San Antonio.
    Crawford, (closely familiar with the Magic from his recent stint in Atlanta), said he wasn’t surprised at how well the Magic shot the ball.

    “I’ve seen them the last two years in the playoffs. Those guys are shooters. They’re built for double teams because they have shooters all around Dwight Howard,” he said. “He does a good job. He’s seen so many double teams through the course of the years he does a good job of finding shooters.”

    The shots indeed fell from everywhere for Orlando, as seven of the nine players coach Stan Van Gundy called upon scored in double figures, led by Hedo Turkoglu, Ryan Anderson and Jameer Nelson with 16 points each. Howard notched the contest’s lone double-double with 13 points and 13 boards.

    Conversely, and perhaps trivially, the Magic shot a woeful 47.4 percent from the charity stripe, a league-wide low for the young season, led by Howard’s 3-of-12 performance from the line.

    Crawford led the Portland offense with 24 points, 14 in the second half, followed by Aldridge with 23.

    Nicolas Batum logged a season-high 34 minutes and chipped in 14 points, four rebounds and a pair of assists.

    “We know that the starters will get tired this season, so I know when Nate calls my name I have to bring energy and I did my job tonight,” Batum said.

    Portland’s six-game, eight-day road trip begins Friday, 5:30 p.m., at San Antonio and continues Saturday, 5 p.m., at Houston.

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