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Trail Blazers 110, Magic 94: Portland rallies in fourth to top Orlando

The Magic led by four when the fourth quarter began, but Portland soon seized control and extended the visitors' losing streak to five games.

Glen Davis and LaMarcus Aldridge
Glen Davis and LaMarcus Aldridge
Craig Mitchelldyer - USA Today Sports

The Orlando Magic dropped their fifth straight game Wednesday, falling by a 110-94 final to the Portland Trail Blazers despite owning a four-point edge after three quarters.

All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge scored a game-high 36 points on 16-of-25 shooting for Portland, while Nicolas Batum word--playing with a broken finger on his left hand--recorded a triple-double with 14 points, 10 boards, and 14 assists.

All five Magic starters scored in double-figures. Arron Afflalo led them with 22 points to go with five boards and four assists. Jameer Nelson tallied 17 with 10 assists.

Orlando opened the game with a small lineup, shifting Afflalo to small forward, Tobias Harris to power forward, and Glen Davis to center against Portland, which plays with two traditional big men. Defending Aldridge, the league's 11th leading scorer, head-up would be a challenge for Davis, but the gameplan proved solid: though Aldridge scored an efficient 21 points in the first half, Davis contested his shots well and the Magic didn't send any doubles his way. As a result, Orlando managed to limit the Blazers to 45 total points and 40.9 percent shooting in the opening two quarters. Harris did yeoman's work defending Portland's centers and keeping them off the glass, getting five boards of his own and preventing them from getting several others.

Offensively, Afflalo gave Orlando a big lift, as he has in most games in his second Magic season: the Magic looked to post him up against smaller players at every opportunity, and ran him off screens when the tough, physical, and heady Wesley Matthews checked him. Afflalo answered the call, shooting 6-of-7 for 18 points in just 18 first-half minutes. And while Nelson shot just 3-of-11 himself, he dished six assists with no turnovers. Victor Oladipo didn't stuff the stat sheet to an exceptional degree, but he made three of his five shots and showed impressive control of his body on two drives to the basket for scores. Sum it up and Orlando owned a 51-45 lead at intermission, on the road and against the West's third-best team.

It took Portland just two second-half minutes to tie the score on Orlando at 53-all, but the Magic responded with an 8-0 run to re-take some measure of control. Portland again tied the score on 66 with a 9-0 run--four different Blazers made one basket each--during which period Jacque Vaughn used two timeouts to stop Portland's momentum.

A triple from Harris with the clock winding down as he isolated Aldridge started a 9-2 Magic run to get them back on the right track. The Trail Blazers, who entered the game ranked 21st in defense, struggle to contain dribble penetration, and that deficiency plays to Nelson's strengths as a pick-and-roll operator: he found Harris and Davis for back-to-back layups during this period simply by keeping his dribble alive and drawing defensive attention in the paint, freeing the bigs to duck in for easy scores. In the third, Orlando lost just one point off its halftime advantage despite the two Portland runs and Afflalo's going scoreless.

The Blazers made their run in the fourth quarter against Afflalo, Oladipo, and three reserves: Matthews scored seven points in less than three minutes to put Portland up by four as the Blazers looked to exploit his one-on-one defensive matchup against Maurice Harkless. Unsurprisingly, Vaughn reloaded with his starters at the next timeout.

Portland found the range from the outside, draining three threes in the opening six minutes of the fourth quarter after hitting only four treys in the first three periods. The host team hung around in the opening 36 minutes despite Aldridge being its only reliable scorer. The ease with which the Blazers took command in the fourth when the complementary players began contributing attests to the team's overall skill level and status as Western title contenders.

Aldridge drained a signature 20-footer at the 5:27 mark to give Portland a 10-point edge, its largest of the night. That lead would balloon to as much as 17 in the game's waning moments as Portland continued to catch fire from the floor.