The Magic may be the worst road team (4-34) in the league, but
they remain surprisingly competitive at home (16-18), drilling the
playoff-bound Portland Trail Blazers 95-85 on Tuesday night at the
"I wish I knew why it was this dramatic," said Magic center Nikola
Vucevic, who had 22 points and 10 rebounds. "If we knew, maybe we
would be more competitive on the road. But I guess everyone just
feels more confident here."
Coming off another awful West Coast trip, with bad losses to the Los
Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors,
the Magic responded with much-better focus, clearly outplaying the
Trail Blazers in the second half.
The Magic are 1-23 on the road since Jan. 1, beating only the lowly
Philadelphia 76ers. But at home, they now have beaten the Los
Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers and Trail
Blazers, all teams that could go deep into the playoffs.
"As a young team, we just have to learn how to play the same way on
the road as we do at home," said Magic forward Tobias Harris, who
had 25 points and 11 rebounds. "It's just that playing on the road
is a lot different than playing at home. Just like the way our home
crowd gets us going, the same thing happens with the other team's
crowd on the road."
The Magic snapped a nine-game losing streak that included six road
games with an 11-point average margin of defeat.
"It's about having confidence at home," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn
said. "It can be overwhelming for a young team on the road when
every mistake is amplified. It's just something a young team has to
learn how to handle."
While the lottery-bound Magic were celebrating another home-court
victory, the Blazers (45-27) were lamenting another wasted
opportunity as their late-season struggles continued.
Center Robin Lopez had 20 points and 13 rebounds, but the Blazers
lost their third consecutive game. Portland has won only four of its
last 13 games, falling farther behind Houston for the No. 4 seed and
possible home-court advantage in the first round of the NBA
The Blazers, who lost Saturday in Charlotte and Monday in Miami,
trailed by as many as 19 points early in the fourth quarter. They
made only 32 of 86 shots from the field (37.2 percent) and never led
in the second half.
Their once-promising season is slipping away, partially because of
the absence of forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who missed his seventh
consecutive game with a bruised lower back. He is expected back on
"We have to have an urgency," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "We
have to defend. We have to do the little things to win games. This
was an extremely disappointing loss and was a game we needed to
have. The playoff race is tight. We'd like to look forward, but we
have four teams now that are right on our heels and every game has
to have a sense of urgency."
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Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews had 18 points and guard Damian
Lillard 17. Magic point guard Victor Oladipo had 13 points and six
assists. Orlando reserve guard Doron Lamb scored 11 points and guard
Arron Afflalo had 10.
The Magic led 79-65 going into the fourth quarter. Harris sparked
Orlando in the third quarter, when he made all four of his shots from
the field and scored 11 points.
The Magic led 50-42 at halftime, capitalizing on a 16-0 run in the
second quarter that was led by Lamb, who hit two 3-point shots. The
Blazers led 38-32 before they went cold.
In the first quarter, Lopez hit all five of his shots from the
field, leading Portland to a 26-23 advantage.
Vucevic finished the first half with 14 points and six rebounds.
Both teams were sloppy early. The Blazers had nine turnovers and the
Magic eight in the first two quarters.
The Blazers were careless in the second half, too, when they fouled
Magic shooters twice behind the 3-point line.
NOTES: The Blazers were without All-Star F LaMarcus Aldridge (lower
back contusion) for the seventh consecutive game, although he worked
out on the court with his teammates before the game. He is expected
back Thursday when Portland plays at Atlanta. The Blazers were 3-3
without him before Tuesday. ... The Magic were without PG Jameer
Nelson (sore left knee) for the fourth consecutive game. ... Orlando
owns the NBA's worst road record (4-34). The franchise mark for
fewest road victories is six, set during the inaugural season,
1989-90 . ... As part of the 25th anniversary celebration, the Magic
honored former player Grant Hill on Tuesday, even though his time
was marked by numerous injuries. Hill spent seven seasons in Orlando
but played in only 200 of a possible 574 games. ... The hot-shooting
start on Tuesday for Portland C Robin Lopez (5 of 5 from the field
in the first quarter) was no surprise. In his previous three games
combined, he was 11 of 16 from the floor.
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