After getting off to an incredible start (The Magic posted an effective field goal percentage of 85% and led 36-22 at the end of the first quarter), the Magic nearly let a sure victory slip away before hanging on for a 107-104 victory.
The Magic built their lead to as large as 23 by the midway point of the third quarter before the Blazer rally began. Portland cut the lead to as little as three on three different occasions. J.J. Redick had a team-high 17 points off of the bench while Jamal Crawford continued to torture the Magic, scoring 24 points off of the Portland bench.
The victory probably leaves a bit of a sour taste in Magic fans’ mouths because of the large lead they blew but a win over Portland is impressive either way.
- Orlando played about as well as they possibly could in the first quarter. They built a 36-22 lead, shot 70.0% from the floor and hit six of their eight three-point attempts. Their first four shots made were three layups and a dunk, all within the first 1:40 of the game. The ball movement throughout the game was very impressive. The Magic swung the ball around very well, assisting on 25 of their 41 field goals.
- Jameer Nelson was aggressive right away, taking Raymond Felton straight to the basket at the start the game. He made his first seven shots and even forced the Blazers to take Felton off of him and guard him with forwards instead (which worked pretty well). Nelson finished with 16 points, five assists and four rebounds. When Nelson is aggressive and plays like he did Wednesday night, the Magic are very tough to beat.
- The Magic are nearly impossible to beat when they are stroking the ball from the outside. They certainly did that Wednesday, going 16-of-27 (59.3%) from beyond the arc.
- J.J. Redick nailed three of those three-pointers and led the Magic with 17 points. With the Magic reeling and unable to hit a free throw (or even get to the line), Redick was intentionally fouled twice and hit all four free throws to sink the Blazers.
- Afterwards, Van Gundy said “We played really well for 38 minutes.”
- In those last 10 minutes, the Magic couldn’t handle Portland’s trap and piled up the turnovers. Orlando gave the ball away 18 times (they had just two turnovers in the opening quarter) and just got sloppy on offense. Van Gundy wondered if Jameer Nelson was winded late in the game.
- In the fourth quarter, the Magic looked almost lost defending the LaMarcus Aldridge/Jamal Crawford pick-and-rolls. Aldridge, playing center in the final quarter, finished with 23 points while Crawford had 24.
- The Magic countered with their own pick-and-roll on the last few plays between Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu. Turkoglu drove to the basket and hit a layup after Portland cut the lead to three. On the next play, after a Magic stop, Turkoglu hit a three-pointer that essentially iced the game (until the Magic made a couple of silly turnovers and had to rely on those Redick free throws to close the game out).
- Turkoglu finished with 16 points and six assists, including four three-pointers.
- Howard had 13 points, 13 rebounds and showed off his improved passing out of the post, even racking up four assists. It could have been a much bigger day for Howard despite the Blazers often running three players at him, but he went just 3-of-12 from the free throw line.
- Orlando’s power forwards did a pretty solid drop of matching Aldridge, combing for27 points. Anderson had 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting and pulled down nine rebounds while Glen Davis scored 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting and had six boards.
- Von Wafer played three minutes, but didn’t score. Seven of Orlando’s eight normal rotation players (Redick 17, Anderson 16, Turkoglu 16, Nelson 16, Jason Richardson 15, Howard 13 and Davis 11) were in double figures.
- Orlando also did a very good job on the glass, pulling down 42 rebounds to Portland 32.
Next Up: The Magic will take on the Golden State Warriors Thursday night in a nationally televised game (TNT).
Final Thought: Despite the near collapse, the Magic have to feel good about a win over one of the league’s better teams.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him onTwitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)
Tags: Batum Chris Duhon Dwight Howard Gerald Wallace Glen Davis Hedo Turkoglu J.j. Redick Jameer Nelson Jason Richardson Kurt Thomas Lamarcus Aldridge Larry Hughes Marcus Camby Orlando Magic Otis Smith Portland Trail Blazers Quentin Richardson Raymond Felton Ryan Anderson Stan Van Gundy Von Wafer Wesley Matthews