Howard, Magic get by Blazers
The Orlando Magic's reputation as a free-wheeling offensive team
took a beating Saturday night, and coach Stan Van Gundy was
actually happy about it.
"Every team in this league will win when they're having a great offensive night, but what separates teams is when you can dig out wins when you're not having a good night," Van Gundy said after his team scratched out a 92-83 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
"I was really proud of how hard our guys defended and stayed on the boards," Van Gundy added. "We need to play better, but there were a lot more positives than negatives out of this game."Dwight Howard has 12 points, 20 rebounds and four blocks, and Rashard Lewis added 15 points for the Magic, who had 19 turnovers and shot 42 percent. They compensated by limiting Portland to just two field goals and seven points in the final seven minutes of the game.
Orlando went on an 11-0 run during that stretch to break open a game that was tied at 76 with 6:53 left in the fourth.
"We've got to win the ugly games, too," said Magic forward Matt Barnes, who didn't get off the bench until late in the third quarter and was a spark during the decisive fourth-quarter run. "We didn't have it going offensively so you've got to buckle down and play better defense, which fortunately we did."
Barnes drew the unenviable assignment of slowing down Brandon Roy, who finished with 33 points, 21 of them in the second half. Roy scored 15 of Portland's 21 points in the third quarter and kept his team afloat until Barnes got him under control in the final quarter.
The Blazers couldn't find anyone to pick up the slack. LaMarcus Aldridge, the team's second-leading scorer, had just three points on 1-of-6 shooting.
"It felt like a winnable game, but Orlando made the plays in the fourth quarter and got the stops they needed," Roy said. "LaMarcus is a big part of what we do and we couldn't get him going. You have to give them credit."
"We just didn't execute," Portland Coach Nate McMillan said. "We didn't move the ball well and then we didn't defend."
Jason Williams scored 13 points and J.J. Redick chipped in 12 as Orlando overcame a sluggish first half to beat Portland for the sixth time in the last seven meetings.
Andre Miller scored 16 for Portland, but the Trail Blazers ran out of energy in the second half. Portland shot just 34 percent after halftime and was outrebounded 54-35 by the Magic.
Roy finally stopped the Magic's late run with a pair of free throws, but the Blazers hit just five of 18 from the field in the fourth.
The Magic had their own offensive struggles in the first half, committing 11 turnovers and shooting just 34.2 percent. Williams hit four of five shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, but the rest of the Magic backcourt was a combined 3-of-21, including Vince Carter's 1-for-11.
The Blazers scored the first eight points of the game but couldn't sustain much offense beyond that -- getting only three assists on 17 field goals in the first half.
But Roy had 12 points and Jerryd Bayless added 10 to help Portland take a 44-39 lead into the break.
The Magic stayed close with four 3-pointers in the third, including one at the buzzer by Redick that tied the game at 65.
Notes: Magic PG Jameer Nelson, out for the past month with a torn meniscus in his left knee, worked out with the team Saturday. He will practice Sunday and could return Wednesday against Houston. ... Roy has now scored 23 points or more in nine straight games. ... The Trail Blazers had only seven assists on their 29 field goals in the game. ... Howard had has 35th career game with 20 or more rebounds.