Magic fade against Trail Blazers
By ANNE M. PETERSON
AP Sports Writer
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Andre Miller wasn't looking to stir things up any more than he already had over a suspension he didn't agree with.
So Miller let his play speak for him, scoring 22 points in the Trail Blazers' 97-83 victory over the Orlando Magic on Thursday night.
"My motivation was to keep my emotions intact -- come back normal, like it was any other game," said Miller, who missed Portland's last game, a victory over Phoenix, because of a one-game suspension imposed by the league.
Miller was disciplined for making "excessive and unnecessary contact" with Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin in a game Sunday. The suspension snapped Miller's consecutive games streak at 632, the longest among active NBA players. He hadn't missed a game since Jan. 24, 2003.
Miller told reporters Wednesday the suspension wasn't justified. He says it showed that the league favors younger players and was without consideration for his accomplishment.
He was still upset about the suspension Thursday, but his tone had mellowed a bit.
"I've got to be responsible for my actions," he said, "but at the same time I didn't agree with it."
A fan at the game held a sign that read: "Don't mess with Andre!"
Wesley Matthews added 20 points for the Blazers, who trailed by 14 points in the first half but led by 15 points in the second. Portland has won three straight after losing six in a row.
Dwight Howard had a season-high 39 points and added 15 rebounds in the loss, the Magic's third straight. The team had been hampered by a nasty stomach ailment that hit Howard, Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus, but all of them were healthy against the Blazers -- including Nelson, who sat out the last three games.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy sequestered his team behind closed doors well after the game.
"We have to play the game better and we have to play it with a lot more energy, alertness and cohesiveness," Van Gundy said. "Obviously, you want to win every night, but the results will take care of themselves if you play a certain way."
Said Howard: "You can't coach energy, You can't coach hard work. It comes from a player. If you don't want to play hard, you've got to sit down and let somebody else step up."
He had 18 points in the first quarter to help the Magic take a 22-14 lead.
The Magic stretched the margin to 14 points before the Blazers started to close the gap, cutting it to 40-34 on LaMarcus Aldridge's dunk.
Matthew's 3-pointer pulled the Blazers to 44-43, but Howard quieted the crowd with a dunk and Orlando led 46-45 at the half. Howard had 26 points at the break.
Portland pulled in front 49-48 on Marcus Camby's layup early in the second half. Portland pushed the lead to 63-56 and started the fourth quarter with a 67-62 advantage.
Rudy Fernandez's 3-pointer gave the Blazers a 75-64 edge, and Portland cruised the rest of the way. Miller's jumper made it 88-73.
The Magic were hurt by the poor shooting of Nelson, who was 4 of 14 from the field, and Vince Carter, who was 2 of 12.
That was part of the plan, said Blazers center Marcus Camby, who had six points and 13 rebounds.
"We knew he (Howard) was going to get his points," Camby said. "We were just trying to keep the guys around him down."
Miller said he's still proud of his streak, despite the way it ended. He points out he's only missed four games in his 11-season career.
"Glad this game is over, honestly," he said. "Move on to the next day."
The Blazers will play Friday night in Phoenix. Portland beat the Suns 106-99 on Tuesday night at the Rose Garden.
NOTES: The Blazers had a "red-out" at the Rose Garden, which was facilitated by Google. The company left red T-shirts on every seat. ... Portland honored Dr. Jack Ramsay, who coached the Blazers to the 1977 NBA championship. Ramsay was part of the ESPN Radio crew covering the game. ... Howard's career high is 45 points, set in 2009 against Charlotte. ... Chris Dudley, the former trail Blazers who ran unsuccessfully for governor in Oregon, was at the game.