Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
The Magic didn’t just pull out a win, finally snapping a season-high 12-game losing streak. More than that, they won a game in convincing fashion. They led for the majority of the game, more or less, once J.J. Redick checked into the game in the first quarter.
And what’s more, the outstanding performance of Gustavo Ayon off the bench is a welcome development and hopefully something he (and the team) can build on. Ayon stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists.
Just as he did when the Magic lost in overtime in Portland in early January, Redick was the catalyst for the Magic’s offense on Sunday. He was the most consistent shooter on the floor for either team and stayed in the game after appearing to re-aggravate his shoulder. He picked up five assists to go along with Jameer Nelson’s career-high 15 dimes.
Much of Orlando’s scoring took place inside (60 points in the paint). Granted, the Blazers have been one of the worst interior defensive teams all season, so I’m not sure how much to read into the strong performances by the Magic’s bigs.
But the story was Ayon, who played his best game in a Magic uniform. He was the second-most reliable weapon offensively outside of Redick. Nikola Vucevic outperformed J.J. Hickson at both ends of the floor, and Kyle O’Quinn and Andrew Nicholson were efficient in shorter minutes.
Nelson (4-for-18) and Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (1-for-16) both had horrific shooting nights, but the Magic’s balanced offensive attack mitigated this more than Portland’s did.
Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews scored efficiently for Portland, but while LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 25 points, it took him 21 shots to do it.
The key to the Magic’s success was limiting Lillard’s effectiveness and it paid dividends.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
J.J. Redick overcame a shoulder injury scare late in the second quarter and powered the Magic’s offense from end-to-end, finishing with 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting and five assists.
Second-chance points and offensive rebounding. The two teams pulled down the same number of defensive rebounds (33), but Orlando dominated the offensive glass, outrebounding Portland 17-5. They won the second-chance points battle 15-6.
That was … Tantilizing
Gustavo Ayon finally started to show some of the promise that caused Rob Hennigan to trade Ryan Anderson for him. He turned in his best game in a Magic uniform, finishing with a double-double.