Recap: Portland Trail Blazers 97, Orlando Magic 83 | Magic Basketball

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Dec 10

Recap: Portland Trail Blazers 97, Orlando Magic 83

AP Photo/Steve Dykes

BOX SCORE

The Portland Trail Blazers were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 97-83. For the Magic, they’re now on a three-game losing streak. An item of note is that this is the first time, in the Stan Van Gundy era, that Orlando has lost three games in a row without scoring more than 85 points in each game. Not sure if that anecdote carries any significance, but it’s something worth pointing out. The Blazers were led by Andre Miller, who flirted with a triple-double and finished with 22 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, and two steals. Wesley Matthews continues his strong play in the starting lineup for Portland, finishing with 20 points and three steals. Nicolas Batum chipped in with 15 points and 10 rebounds. For the Magic, it was all Dwight Howard — 39 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocks. Yes, four other players for Orlando scored in double-figures but they got their points when the game was no longer in contest.

Whether it was players still recovering from the stomach virus or whatever else, but the Magic played one of their most uninspired games of the regular season.

There’s not many things to say about the defeat. However, it was fascinating to see this game pan out similarly to Orlando’s loss against the Miami Heat early in the year. There was lots of Howard, but little support from his teammates offensively.

Looking to test the Blazers’ big men, the Magic established Howard in the low post early and often in the first quarter. At the time, the strategy paid off because there wasn’t much that Marcus Camby and Joel Przybilla could do to stop Howard from getting whatever he wanted on the low block but this later turned out to be fool’s gold. Orlando ran a heavy diet of 4-out/1-in offensive sets for Howard in the period and he responded with 18 points.

FIRST QUARTER
[11:15] Howard makes 7-foot two point shot
[9:18] Howard makes free throw 1 of 2
[9:18] Howard makes free throw 2 of 2
[8:48] Howard makes 18-foot two point jumpshot (Nelson assist)
[7:56] Howard makes layup (Carter assist)
[7:26] Howard makes 4-foot two point shot
[5:26] Howard makes 14-foot two point jumpshot (Nelson assist)
[4:26] Howard makes free throw 1 of 2
[4:26] Howard makes free throw 2 of 2
[3:09] Howard makes layup (Nelson assist)
[1:08] Howard makes layup

Howard could do no wrong offensively.

Ironically enough, Howard’s success on offense turned out to bad a bad thing for the Magic because it took away the playmaking abilities of Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter on the perimeter. With the basketball consistently being inserted into the post, Orlando stood around and ball movement ceased to exist. For instance, there was a noticeable lack of pick and rolls being executed by either Nelson or Carter. So although Howard was able to get his, none of his teammates got theirs.

That’s partly one of the reasons that the Magic lost.

Another reason is that Miller thoroughly outplayed Nelson. Miller ran pick and rolls to perfection, while posting up from time-to-time, and torched Orlando’s defense in the process. Also, Head coach Nate McMillan astutely inserted a small-ball lineup of Miller, Brandon Roy, Matthews, Batum, and LaMarcus Aldridge. This unit had great success against the Magic, primarily because Aldridge’s presence on the perimeter forced Howard to account for him. As such, that opened up the paint for Portland to do damage and they did just that. A sequence that encapsulated this example occurred during the second quarter when Aldridge was able to get Howard to come out at him as he made a 19-foot jumpshot.

Two possessions later, Aldridge pump-faked a shot and because Howard was on the perimeter to guard him, there was no one in the paint from the Magic to offer help defense. As a result, Aldridge got an uncontested dunk.

With that aforementioned lineup, the Blazers turned a 14-point deficit in the period and cut it to a single point at halftime.

From there, Portland was able to take control partly due to Orlando’s inability to manufacture points from anyone not named Howard. Yes, the Magic’s defense was problematic throughout the course of the evening but that wasn’t the main issue.

The issue was that Nelson, Carter and to a lesser extent, Lewis, couldn’t score.

At all.

The bad news is that this is becoming a recurring theme.

7 comments
eltharion_doa
eltharion_doa

RECAP: Eddy Rivera Degrees 1, Rest of TrueHoop Network 0 (probably)

Congrats on graduating, Eddy.

NC Magic Fan
NC Magic Fan

Just ran across this twit from Eddy (erivera7) "Because of a REAL busy day due to graduation, MBN will be on hiatus for today. Sorry for the inconvenience! "

Congratulations Eddy!

Michael0101_99
Michael0101_99

get someone who can create thier own shot or a point who knows how to assist

Billy (slickw143)
Billy (slickw143)

Jameer's averaging 8.3 assists per 36 minutes, with a 30.9 assist ratio (better than guys like Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Devin Harris, Chauncey Billups, and Derrick Rose). He's no Rondo or Nash or CP3, but he's a different player with a different role in this offense.

Michael
Michael

please make a trade before Dwight becomes sour, Magic have plenty of pieces to make aquire an impact player

Billy (slickw143)
Billy (slickw143)

The small-ball strategy indeed worked well, and it started going downhill in the second. I couldn't help but notice though that with that small-ball advantage the Blazers had on their end of the court, pulling Dwight from the paint, that the Magic didn't look to punish Aldridge on the other end more in that period. Dwight had it working, but he only got a few post-ups after he came back in. He wasn't going to continue the insane efficiency he had in the first, but he could've got Aldridge in foul trouble to get them out of the small-ball lineup.

Andre Miller always seems to play great against us. Jameer just looked off, hopefully just a result from coming back from the illness. But yeah, Miller just roasted us with running the offense from the high post.

Pnut
Pnut

It seems that the "nicer" SVG gets, the less motivated the players are. They seem so mentally immature.