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Portland 128, Orlando 114: Lillard’s hot second half propels Blazers

Damian Lillard scored 34 second half points to lead Portland Thursday night

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Damian Lillard absolutely torched the Orlando Magic Thursday night in Portland’s lone trip of the NBA season to the Amway Center.

The Blazers defeated the Magic 128-114 in a game in which they shot 55% from the field as a team.

The Magic began the game a bit sluggish defensively. Coach Clifford’s guys didn’t have the same intensity they showed defending the Celtics Monday night (Blazers shot 61% in the opening period). Portland pulled down three early offensive rebounds that led to five second chance points.

Offensively, the Magic were led by Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier for most of the first quarter. In fact, Vucevic and Fournier combined to score all of Orlando’s first 18 points.

Orlando’s two centers, Vucevic and Mohamed Bamba, were outplayed early by Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins (who both scored 8 first quarter points).

Collins continued to be a problem for the Magic into the second quarter. Bamba struggled to slow down Collins in the paint and on the boards. A second quarter Collins offensive rebound led to a CJ McCullom three-point make, which pushed Portland’s lead to 13 (47-34).
Luckily for the Magic, Terrence Ross caught fire in the second quarter (2-3 3PT in the period). Ross scored 8 of his 12 first half points in the period to keep the game close.

After back-to-back Jonathan Isaac buckets (including one ferocious baseline slam), the Trail Blazers closed the half on a mini-run (7-2) and took a 58-48 lead into the break.

Lillard was effective running the pick-and-roll all-night Thursday, but he was primarily setting others up in the first half. Not so much in the third quarter. Coming out of the half, Lillard looked to get his.

And he did. The All-Star guard torched the Magic for 19 points in the period. Lillard was knocking down shots from deep, he knocked down shots in the mid-range. He even converted an alley-oop at the rim from Evan Turner off a baseline backdoor cut.

Despite Lillard’s efforts, the Magic were able to cut into Portland’s halftime lead. Orlando shot 14-23 (61%) in the third period, led by Aaron Gordon (9 third quarter points) and Bamba.

The Magic started their fourth quarter run behind Gordon, who provided Clifford’s team with a huge spark at the 9:58 mark. Gordon hit a three-point attempt coming off a screen, blocked a shot on the ensuing defensive possession, and then found Terrence Ross while leading the break for an open corner three-pointer which cut Portland’s lead to seven.

Another Gordon three-point make with just under 8 minutes remaining in the contest brought Orlando within three points (102-99).

That would be as close as the Magic would get. After a Terry Stotts timeout at the 7:54 mark, the Blazers would go on a 9-0 run to push their lead back to double-digits.

The Blazers went with a Lillard/McCullom/Seth Curry three-guard lineup in the fourth quarter that really spread the Magic out. The trio combined for 29 points in the fourth quarter alone, as the Blazers ran away from the Magic late, 128-114.

Lillard led all scorers with 41 points - 34 of those coming in the second half. Collins was impressive as well, scoring 17 points (7-7 FG, 2-2 3PT) in 17 minutes.

Vucevic led the way again for the Magic with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Ross chipped in a season-high 21 points off Orlando’s bench.

The Magic now head to Milwaukee to take on the undefeated Milwaukee Bucks Saturday night (one game trip) before returning home to face the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.