Despite the absence of Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic gave a good effort against the Portland Trail Blazers but came up just short, falling 89-85.
LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 24 points while Jason Richardson had 22 points for the Magic.
The Magic stayed in the game during the first half, largely in part because the Blazers couldn’t hit open shots. Of course, that wasn’t the only reason the Magic stayed in the game, their defense wasn’t terrible and they made just enough shots.
Early in the third quarter, the Blazers used a 10-2 run to push their lead to 13 (60-47) before Orlando started to get hot from beyond the arc and cut the lead to four by the end of the quarter. Orlando started the fourth quarter with a Ryan Anderson layup followed by consecutive threes by Jason Richardson. A few possessions later, an Anderson three gave them a 77-76 lead. Orlando had a 79-78 lead when Jason Richardson exited the game and Portland immediately went on a 10-2 run to push the lead back to seven. Orlando got back in it on Orlando’s four-point possession (1-of-2 from the free throw line and a three-pointer). They got the ball back twice down just four but couldn’t convert on either possession. First, Hedo Turkoglu missed a three and couldn’t get the ball after Gilbert Arenas’ save, then Turkoglu inexplicably passed up a three-pointer with about 11 seconds to pass to Earl Clark and the Magic ran out of time.
Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy said Turkoglu told him “he couldn’t get a handle” on the ball on the last play and that’s why he passed up the shot.
After the jump, you can read more thoughts, observations and quotes from the game.
Turnovers were Orlando’s major issue again.
“We were a little better than them in every area but we had 19 turnovers and they had 9,” Van Gundy said immediately following the game. “Ball game.”
“We didn’t lose that game because Dwight Howard didn’t play. We lost that game because we had 19 turnovers and they had nine,” Van Gundy added.
Van Gundy specifically pointed out the poor play of his point guards, Jameer Nelson and Gilbert Arenas. The two combined to have 11 turnovers (Arenas had six and Nelson had five).
Neither point guard played well at all. Nelson shot 1-of-7 and was left on the bench during the fourth quarter. Van Gundy hinted that it was Nelson’s turnovers and poor shooting night that left him off the court in favor of Gilbert Arenas down the stretch.
Arenas scored just nine points on 4-of-9 shooting but had a nice little run that saw him score seven points in jus t over two minutes and helped the Magic cut Portland’s 13-point lead to four at the end of the third quarter. Unfortunately, that was about all Arenas did right. He had to settle for a couple floaters because he just can’t get all the way to the hoop any more.
Jason Richardson was a major positive for the Magic. He scored 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting and went 4-of-5 from downtown. Again, he made big shots in the fourth quarter. When he was taken out, the Magic were about to take a one-point lead on a Ryan Anderson free throw. When he returned, the Magic were down 88-81.
Earl Clark was the other positive. He had nine points, nine rebounds and three blocks and was pretty efficient in doing so, going 4-of-6 from the field. He continues to show promise as a prospect and potential future starter.
- Both Earl Clark (26) and Ryan Anderson (38) set career-highs for minutes played.
- The Magic have now held their opponent to under 90 points in six of their last nine games. Entering the night, the Magic were 20-2 when holding an opponent under 90 points.
- The Magic are 4-7 on Mondays, the only day of the week in which they have a losing record.
- It was the first time since Orlando’s Christmas day matchup with the Boston Celtics that no player recorded a double double.
Next Up: The Magic start their west coast road trip in Sacramento against the Kings Wednesday night.
Final Thought: Orlando’s big men didn’t really score in the paint (22 points) but they really didn’t do a terrible job filling in for Dwight Howard. The Magic played well enough to win the game; it was simply turnovers that cost them a victory.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and ESPN 1080′s Magic Insider (http://espn1080.com). Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).
Topics: Brandon Bass, Brandon Roy, Dwight Howard, Earl Clark, Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, J.j. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Lamarcus Aldridge, Malik Allen, Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers, Quentin Richardson, Ryan Anderso, Stan Van Gundy