Trail Blazers 102, Magic 87
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)
``It's not pretty right now,'' he said. ``But I'm not going to give up on this team, and we're not going to give up on each other.''
Howard had an off night and Portland - playing without injured guard Brandon Roy - capitalized for a 102-87 victory on Friday night. It was Orlando's sixth loss in its past eight games.
``One thing we can't do is point the finger at each other,'' Howard said. ``We've got to play through these situations.''
Howard was doubled-teamed for most of the night and made just four of seven attempts from the field, finishing with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Orlando dropped a half-game back of Atlanta in the Southeast Division.
Martell Webster led the Blazers with 24 points and nine rebounds, and LaMarcus Aldridge added 14 points and 14 rebounds. Portland led by as many as 23 points.
The Magic made just seven of 30 3-point attempts and hit only 50 percent (10 of 20) from the free-throw line. Howard made three of 10 free throws.
``We just got totally outplayed,'' Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``They played tremendously. They played the game just about as well as you can play the game.''
Roy, Portland's two-time All-Star, was hurt during the third quarter of the Blazers' 120-108 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night.
Leading the Blazers with 23.4 points and 5.1 assists per game, Roy has shouldered a heavy load for his injury-depleted team. Portland lost both Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla for the season, and they're still awaiting the return of forwards Travis Outlaw and Nicolas Batum.
Jerryd Bayless was tapped to start in Roy's place against the Magic. When Bayless got into foul trouble early, the Blazers turned to guard Steve Blake, the team's starter last year who lost the role this season to Andre Miller.
Blake had 18 points and six assists, while Miller finished with 19 points and nine assists.
``Tenacious, resilient,'' Webster said about the Blazers. ``Guys are just night in and night out putting forth their best effort. We have to compensate for a lot, and we've done a great job doing that.''
The Magic saw the return of top scorer Vince Carter, who missed three games with a sprained left shoulder.
Carter injured his shoulder last week when he collided with Washington's Andray Blatche, and also missed four games in November because of a sprained left ankle.
Carter was averaging 17.4 points, scoring in double figures in 26 of his 32 games before Friday night. Against the Blazers he had five points and left the locker room quickly after the game.
Howard was averaging 16.9 points and 13.2 rebounds.
The Blazers played smart in the first quarter and built a 22-11 lead on a 14-3 run, capped by Aldridge's layup.
Blake hit a 3-pointer late and the Blazers led 52-32 at the half, but Blake and Howard exchanged words and shoves just before the half for offsetting technical fouls.
Carter made his first field goal, a 3-pointer, early on in the second half in the midst of a 10-2 run for the Magic that narrowed it to 54-42.
But it was short-lived. The Blazers hit five straight 3-pointers, three from Webster and two from Blake, to go up 80-62.
Rudy Fernandez hit a 3-pointer to make it 93-72 with just under five minutes left, and the Magic's chances for any kind of comeback slipped away.
The Blazers embark on a four-game road trip. While Roy's injury doesn't appear to be serious, Portland has proof that they can win big without him.
``It lets you know that we may be wounded but we are not out of the fight,'' Webster said. ``We are going to continue to fight and do the things we have to do, because we know we are the underdog every time we go out.''
NOTES: The Magic defeated Portland 92-83 in Orlando on Dec. 19. Roy scored 33 points. ... Blazers G/F Rudy Fernandez played in his second game since missing 19 with a sore back, and the hometown fans were still reveling in his return. One female fan held a sign reading ``I love Rudy more than you do.'' ... The Blazers and Mercy Corps collected more than $65,000 for earthquake relief in Haiti before the game.