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Magic start hot, close out Blazers in Portland

Despite some late scares, Orlando secured their first win of the West Coast road trip

NBA: Orlando Magic at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic were able to snap a four game losing streak on Friday, besting the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center 115-109. The Magic opened up white-hot, starting the game on a 18-1 run before the Blazers recovered. The two teams would trade baskets well into the fourth, but that early cushion was ultimately enough of a confidence builder to propel the Orlando offense to a win.

It was a vintage performance for Magic center Nikola Vucevic, who filled up the stat sheet – netting 30 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and one steal. The Montenegrin big man was a big part of the Magic’s fast start, scoring the first two baskets of the game for Orlando. He also helped close the game, sinking a clutch 17-footer to end a Portland run with under two minutes remaining.

This performance was matched by the dynamic Portland backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J McCollum. The two guards combined for 60 points, five assists, and 11 rebounds.

It was McCollum’s long three-pointer that truly clawed Portland back into the game midway through the second quarter. Portland would take their first lead just past two minutes into the third, but Orlando staved off their recent third quarter woes and finish the deal in Portland.

It was the Blazers that would squander their opportunities late in this one, missing an open layup in the final minutes, as well as failing to capitalize on a bizarre Orlando inbounding play and a missed free throw by Evan Fournier that would have sealed the game with a five point lead.

The Magic would feast on the Blazers’ 28th ranked defense, shooting 49 percent from the floor. Though Vucevic led the charge, the Magic’s deadly three-point shooting was also a major key to the win. They would hit 10-of-18 shots, good enough for 56 percent from beyond the arc.

Though overshadowed by their home team counterparts, the Magic backcourt pair of Elfrid Payton and D.J. Augustin would also have an effective night. They combined for 24 points, nine assists, and five rebounds.

Magic forward Aaron Gordon, who had a strong 28 points in Wednesday’s loss at the Clippers, was again unable to find consistency on Friday. Despite playing 36 minutes, he scored only eight points on 2-of-5 shooting.

The Orlando Magic (17-24) will need to quickly prepare for their next challenge, a road back-to-back at the Utah Jazz (24-16) tomorrow night. The Jazz are coming off of a win against the Detroit Pistons on Friday, as well as a dominant win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on their current homestand.