Things were always going to be rough for the Magic in the situation they faced Saturday night. Missing Nikola Vucevic, Elfrid Payton, and Brandon Jennings all to injury concerns, and on the second night of a back-to-back on the road, the game against the Portland Trailblazers had "schedule loss" written all over it. Still, the Magic's effort was disappointing, as their defensive struggles continued in the 121-84 loss. Oladipo was the leading scorer for Orlando, putting up 18 points in 24 minutes of playing time, and Aaron Gordon added 17. Much of the rest of the team struggled to make shots all night, but that wasn't the case for the Blazers, who hit 56% of their shots, including a massive 17-36 from beyond the arc. Damian Lillard led the way for Portland with 19 points and 10 assists, all of which came in the first three quarters.
The first quarter was all about Oladipo and Fournier for Orlando, as the pair combined to score 21 of the Magic's 24 points. Fournier was aggressive curling off screens and getting into the paint, and also hit one of the Magic's two long-range shots early on. Oladipo, though he settled for a few too many midrange jumpers, was still able to attack on a few occasions, and he picked off a pass to get an easy fastbreak layup. The Magic got off to a great start behind those two players, getting an early 11-2 lead. Portland, however, stormed ahead on the back of their strong outside shooting (6-10 in the quarter). Opponent shooting early in the game has been a struggle for the Magic lately, as they've allowed opponents to hit 49% of their shots in the first quarter in March. That trend held tonight, with the Trailblazers hitting over 52% of their attempts in the first 12 minutes. Thanks to that shooting, and 5 Orlando turnovers, the Blazers held a 31-24 lead.
The defensive issues only grew worse in the second, as Portland increased their shooting to 60% in the half. The Blazers were allowed to do anything they wanted offensively, and Allen Crabbe of all players was the one to benefit, He was the leading scorer of the game at halftime, with 14 points coming both at range and at the hoop. The passing told the story of how Portland's offense outclassed Orlando's. The Trailblazers assisted on 20 of their 26 baskets (77%), but Orlando only assisted on 9 of their 18 makes (50%). Lillard was the catalyst for much of that passing, and while he only scored 5 points in the first half, he made up for it with his 9 assists. For Orlando, Mario Hezonja (8 points in Q2) and Aaron Gordon (6 points) tried to carry the offense, but it was hardly enough to keep up with others on the team struggling with their shot. Jason Smith, Ersan Ilyasova, and CJ Watson were a combined 1-14 in the half, which Portland led 63-42.
Though Lillard fulfilled the facilitator role early on, he was happy to take over in the third quarter. Lillard dropped an easy 14 points against the futile Magic defense, which had no answer for all the dribble penetration. Oladipo continued to do his best to carry the Magic's offense, adding 7 more points to bring his total to 18, and Jason Smith finally got a few jump shots to go down, but that wasn't enough to pace the Portland offense. Things started to get heated between Smith and the Blazers after Smith set a hard screen on Lillard (getting an offensive foul in the process), which led to words between the two players. Soon after, Ed Davis slammed Smith hard with two arms from behind on a Smith drive, and the refs would assign him a Flagrant 2 foul, leading to Davis's automatic ejection. Things calmed down after that and the tensions didn't seem to affect either team significantly. Portland maintained a large lead heading into the fourth, 90-65.
The fourth quarter was mostly academic. The only highlight for Magic fans might have been a chance to see Mo Harkless on the court again, who played several mostly-uneventful minutes in garbage time. The Magic suit up again Tuesday, hosting the Denver Nuggets.