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Orlando Magic 109, Portland Trail Blazers 108

Hedo Turkoglu strikes again

The Orlando Magic faced an eight-point deficit with 2:15 to play in the fourth quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers, one of the best teams in the NBA; in the Rose Garden, where Portland had not lost all year; on the second night of a back-to-back. Gulp.

No problem. After the Magic's final timeout--they got possession with 5 seconds left after forcing a shot-clock violation--Hedo Turkoglu banked-in a fadeaway three-pointer with Travis Outlaw's hand in his face. Three-tenths of a second remained, and the Trail Blazers were out of timeouts, meaning all they could do was inbound the ball, heave it at the basket, and hope for the best. It didn't happen, and Orlando left the court with its biggest win of the season.

Team Pace Efficiency eFG% FT Rate OReb% TO Rate
Magic 88 123.9 59.7% 22.1 13.2 8.0
Blazers 122.7 55.2% 29.9 31.4 13.6

Was this win a fluke? You tell me. I'm inclined to say it wasn't, that this victory shows the Magic have some "realness" (as in, they aren't necessarily "for real" yet, but they could be soon) in them, but that's really open to interpretation. One could argue that the Magic's 14-of-27 shooting performance from downtown was flukey. However, one could just as easily argue that a team as talented as the Magic will shoot that well every night if they get the same sorts of wide-open looks that the Blazers did.

Portland's three-point defense tonight might have been its only flaw. Its execution down the stretch was bad, too, but guarding the three-point line shouldn't be so hard. But do you want to hear the pluses? The Blazers made Dwight Howard (14 points, 7 rebounds, 0 blocks) look ordinary. Their stacked bench scored 45 points, which allowed the starters to rest. Their two brightest young stars, Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldrige, have complementary skills and fantastic chemistry, which allowed them to pick-and-roll the Magic half to death in the fourth quarter. And they humbled the Magic on the glass with a 44-29 advantage (11-5 offensive).

However, the Magic, a notoriously poor offensive rebounding team, got the biggest offensive rebound of the game, though, one that might have won it for them. Down 5 points with :33 to play, Keith Bogans spotted-up in the right corner, which is one of his favorite spots. The shot came up well short, but Bogans did the fundamentally sound thing and followed the shot, which allowed him to collect his own miss. Bogans found Rashard Lewis in the left corner--Lewis' sweet spot is the left baseline--and Lewis drilled the three to bring Orlando within 2 with 0:29 to play. If Bogans doesn't get that rebound, it's hard to imagine the Magic would have found a way to win.

So Orlando shot well from three-point land and got killed on the glass. What else is new? Well, they took care of the ball. Lewis, Turkoglu, and Jameer Nelson had 2 turnovers between them in 116 combined minutes. No Magic player turned the ball over more than once. The Blazers force turnovers on 15.8% of their opponents' possessions. Tonight, the Magic coughed it up 7 times in an 88-possession game, or 8%. Tremendous, and hopefully something on which they can build going forward. Rebounding is still a pressing issue... but we knew that already. That Portland trounced them in that department is no surprise, given their ranks in offensive rebounding percentage and defensive rebounding percentage.

The Magic have two days off before facing Phoenix and Utah in another back-to-back set. They've earned the rest they'll receive after the huge win tonight.