Blazers beat Magic in home return, 106-97

by Kevin Nesgoda

The Portland Trail Blazers are back for a three-game, four-night home stand after splitting their six-game road trip over the last couple weeks.

Lineups

Portland: Damian Lillard, Gary Trent Jr., Derrick Jones Jr., Robert Covington, Enes Kanter

Orlando: Cole Anthony, Dwayne Bacon, James Ennis III, Gary Clark, Nikola Vucevic


Photo via Trail Blazers (used with permission)

Photo via Trail Blazers (used with permission)

Game Recap

First Quarter

Gary Trent opened things up for the Blazers with eight first quarter points, including 2/2 threes, but it was Portland’s defense that shined early on.

Al-Farouq Aminu made his return to NBA basketball after missing over a year due to injuries. It was fitting that his first action since November of 2019 was in Portland, where he spent four years of his career. That is, until he had to leave the game.

Carmelo Anthony heated up in the end of the first quarter and made a pair of threes, helping the Blazers to a 31-19 advantage after having one as big as 16.

Second Quarter

Melo and Gary kept scoring, though Dwayne Bacon hit Orlando’s first three midway through the second quarter on their ninth attempt.

CJ Elleby saw some second-quarter action, making one shot in eight minutes of playing time, while Rodney Hood lost his shoe at one point.

The Magic chipped away at the lead as Portland’s offense stalled, but the Blazers still held a 50-43 advantage by halftime. Gary Trent led all scorers with 15, while Portland’s own Terrence Ross (from Jefferson High School) shot 5/8 for 13 points off the bench.

Third Quarter

RoCo was hit in the face, went to the ground for a while, and ripped his mask off in frustration (his actual plastic mask, not a COVID-preventative one).

Dame hit two huge threes as Dwayne Bacon failed to complete a four-point play. The Blazers found a spark on the defensive end and put a quick 7-0 run together, forcing a timeout from Steve Clifford. RoCo got the block before hitting a three in transition.

Orlando was still commanding Portland’s attention, though, and Vucevic’s second three of the night cut the lead back down into single digits.

The Blazers responded with fluid ball movement and a signature 18-point quarter from Dame, as well as a trio of Anfernee Simons triples.

Fourth Quarter

Melo drew a couple shooting fouls on Chuma Okeke and another on Ennis, completing one three-point play the old-fashioned way and another the “new” way. He finished with 23 points—a season-high—and moved up to 12th on the NBA all-time scoring list.

Up 13 with Dame at the line and five minutes to go, Nikola Vucevic was slow getting up for the Magic on the other end.

He stayed in the game, playing the entire second half.

The Blazers held their lead and with a comfortable 14-point advantage in the final minute, the starters got a rest.

Final Thoughts

This was a game that should have always been a check-mark. Orlando are missing a whole load of players, but the Blazers are too. With its badly-injured-but-not-as-bad-as-it-has-been-recently squad, Portland got their stuff together for a nice win. Most importantly, the Magic never really got within fighting distance.

Player(s) of the Game

Carmelo Anthony, and not just because he beat out Oscar Robertson on the scoring list. His season-high performance was a huge bench boost to Dame’s easy 36. A good all-around win.

Next Up

The Blazers will host the 76ers, who will be looking for revenge after a depleted Blazers squad beat them in Philly last week.

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