Damian Lillard shone in Portland to beat Orlando in a game the Magic led only briefly in. This was another loss in tough circumstances.
THE OPENING QUARTER
Orlando were hit early by Damian Lillard dishing assists out to a red hot Gary Trent Jr, who was drilling the 3 ball.
With 4:30 played in the quarter Al-Farouq Aminu joined the Magic team on court. This was something of a surprise having been listed earlier in the day as out. It was his first appearance after an absence of more than 14 months through a knee injury that had required surgery.
The Magic were toughing it out, being typified by Cole Anthony taking a charge from Robert Covington.
However, Orlando were struggling on offence as Portland built a double digit lead. By the buzzer the score was 19-31 and Orlando had not made a three point shot.
INTO THE SECOND QUARTER
The opening period of the quarter was a drab, low scoring affair in which the Magic offence continued to struggle. With 17 minutes of the game played Orlando hit their first three point bucket, coming from the hand of Dwayne Bacon.
With the quarter coming to an end Magic fans were left concerned seeing Cole Anthony leave the court clearly in pain holding his right shoulder after an inocuos challenge by Enes Kanter.
At the half the score was 43-50 to Portland.
THE THIRD QUARTER
Frank Mason III started the second half as Cole Anthony was still out being examined and would not return with a shoulder strain. Orlando also lost Aminu to a knee injury management, having played just under 5 minutes of his return.
Damian Lillard began to become a scoring influence, hitting 17 points in the third period.
Despite the injury setbacks and Dame Lillard’s impact Orlando continued to battle. James Ennis III hit a couple of valuable threes to keep Orlando close as the Magic’s shooting improved.
Unfortunately Portland’s 3 point barrage saw them hit 7 of 12 in the quarter. This shooting saw a high scoring quarter, the score standing at 73-84 at the close.
INTO THE FOURTH
Orlando got the deficit down to 8 but could make no further impact. Carmelo Anthony was seeing the ball and took advantage of being guarded by rookie Chuma Okeke. His play was such that Damian Lillard did not feature until returning with 6:30 remaining.
Slowly Orlando dropped back in low scoring quarter. By the buzzer Orlando had taken another loss.
THE FINAL SCORE – 97-106
THE STATS OF THE NIGHT AS LILLARD SHONE IN PORTLAND
Orlando drop to a season record of 8-16, remaining 13th in the East.
Five Magic players made double figure scoring. Nikola Vucevic hit his 17th double-double of the season, leading the team with 27 points and 15 rebounds. James Ennis scored well with 16 points. Terrence Ross contributed strongly, making 22 points. Being forced to play big minutes Frank Mason scored 11 points with 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Chuma Okeke also had a career best for assists with 5.
As Lillard shone in Portland he got a game winning 36 points and Carmelo Anthony a strong 23 for Portland.
It is hard to criticise a team facing the injury crisis Orlando has and experiencing yet more in game injury adversity. It is perhaps difficult to understand why Mo Bamba yet again failed to feature? This is especially true when one considers his impact in the 4th quarter during our last outing. Could he have been a catalyst to bring the game closer still?
The differential on three point shooting in what was a close game was huge, Portland making 18 (54 points) compared to Orlando’s 11 (33 points), a differential of 21 points. Missed free throws also were telling. Orlando went 12 of 22, compared to a 18 of 19 for Portland. A game lost by 9 points saw Orlando leave 10 points behind at the line.
Up next it is Stephen Curry the Golden State Warriors. This road trip doesn’t ease up any!