ORLANDO, October 25, 2018 – The Orlando Magic (2-3) returned home after an encouraging win over the Boston Celtics on the road to lose one to the Portland Trailblazers (3-1) 128-114 at the Amway Center.
The game started with what fans hope is a glimpse of the future with second year forward Jonathan Issacs denying the first two shots offered up by Portland, but when it came down to it, the Trailblazers showed why they are NBA Western Conference elite.
The Magic fell behind early and never managed to overtake the Trailblazers. The boys in blue did keep pace with them, never letting Portland get too far away and managing to keep their deficit to single digits for most of the game.
Nivola Vucevic continued this season’s trend of leading the Magic in scoring with 24 points and 11 rebounds and tied Shaquille O’Neal for second in team history with 226 double-doubles.
Reserve guard Terrence Ross poured in 21 points and hit five 3-pointers. Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon, each scored 17 points, while Isaac contributed 10 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots.
`It seemed like we couldn’t get any stops and we were playing from behind all night and that’s not what you want against a couple of lethal scorers like they have over there on that side,’’ Gordon said. “We definitely need to cement our identity quickly and have a standard of play that we have every single night. The inconsistency is going to come back to bite us in the long run, so we’ve got to be more consistent on the defensive end.’’
Gordon was ice cold in the first half, going 0 for 5 with only four points at the half. In the second half, Gordon got going with some clutch shots and staying aggressive which gave him the respectable 17 points.
So in the Trailblazers locker room, Lillard talked about a Magic fan heckling him on the first half.
“He just kept hollering my name,” Lillard said. ”’Oh, he don’t want to play tonight. He ain’t that good.’ The whole first half, he just wouldn’t shut up. And I got tired of it. And that was that. I told him at the end of the second quarter, ‘We’re going to see.’ And he kept on talking. And we saw.”
Indeed. Lillard erupted in the second half, scoring 34 points and making 11 of 15 shots, including 5 of 8 three-pointers, inspiring the Blazers to a relatively easy victory. By the end of the night, the All-Star point guard had 41 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
The 41 points were the most by Blazers player against Orlando, topping Rasheed Wallace’s 37 points in 2001, and Lillard’s 34 second-half points were a franchise record for scoring in a half. Also, Lillard recorded his 17th-career 40-point game, equaling Clyde Drexler’s franchise record.
The Magic have adopted Steve Clifford’s attitude of “No excuses”, and Gordon’s statements post game made that clear.
`We’re professionals and some of the best players in the world and should be able to pick up things quickly,’’ Gordon said. “That’s on us, we’re going to have to keep working and turn it around the next game.’’
Orlando will be back on the practice floor on Friday before departing for Milwaukee, where it will face superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.