Magic-Trail Blazers Preview

A visit to Portland might not offer the Orlando Magic the ideal

opportunity to snap their longest skid in seven seasons.

The Magic look to avoid a ninth consecutive loss Monday night

against the Trail Blazers, who are trying to win eight straight at

home for the second time in three seasons.

Orlando (12-21) was riding a season-high four-game winning

streak when starting forward Glen Davis was lost for at least four

weeks after he sprained his left shoulder during a 90-83 win over

Washington on Dec. 19. The Magic have not won since, allowing 104.6

points per contest during their eight-game skid – the team’s

longest since Feb. 6-22, 2006.

The Magic last lost nine in a row during a 13-game slide March

13-April 10, 2004.

“I told our guys that this is about different challenges

throughout the course of the season and everyone wants to win –

it’s what makes us competitors,” first-year coach Jacque Vaughn

said.

Orlando has been competitive during the slide, losing five times

by four points or fewer. It suffered two-point losses to both Miami

and Chicago prior to Saturday’s 114-106 home defeat to New

York.

The Magic shot 48.2 percent, outrebounded the Knicks by five and

led by eight heading into the fourth quarter.

“Clearly we have to learn how to win, if that makes sense,”

said guard Arron Afflalo, who shook off a hard fall to score 20 of

his 29 points in the second half. “Coach is doing a great job in

terms of the schemes of the game plan. We’re definitely competing

hard as players, but we need to learn how to win.”

Jameer Nelson has done his part by totaling 61 points on

21-of-40 shooting over the last two games since missing the

previous two with a strained hip. Nelson had 29 with eight assists

Saturday, leaving him two assists shy of breaking Scott Skiles’

franchise record of 2,776.

Nelson had 16 points and five assists when Orlando avoided a

third consecutive defeat at Portland with a 107-104 victory Jan.

11.

The Magic could face a tougher challenge when opening a

four-game trip at the Rose Garden, where the Trail Blazers (18-15)

are 11-4 and allowing 88.6 points on 41.8 percent shooting over the

last seven contests.

Portland, which last won eight straight at home March 5-April 3,

2011, returns home trying for a third consecutive victory overall

after a 3-1 road trip. Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum combined

to make 10 of the team’s franchise record-tying 16 3-pointers

Saturday at Minnesota, and each finished with 26 points as the

Trail Blazers held on for a 102-97 win.

Portland – winner of 10 of 13 – saw its 22-point lead trimmed to

two while giving up 36 points in the fourth quarter.

“If you shoot the 3 that well, you should probably win by more

than five,” coach Terry Stotts said.

Stotts’ players, however, see the result as another example of

their collective character.

“We’re resilient, we can play,” said Matthews, who has scored

47 points and gone 10 of 15 from beyond the arc in the last two

games. “We’re good. We can win. We’re a playoff team.”

Portland star LaMarcus Aldridge has recorded 47 points in the

last two meetings with Orlando.