Road Trip Reaches Halfway Point In Orlando

by Casey Holdahl
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After ending a five-game losing streak Wednesday night in Miami, the Portland Trail Blazers (13-12) head north to face the Orlando Magic (11-18) in the first game of a road back-to-back Friday night at Amway Center. Tipoff is schedule for 7 p.m.

The Trail Blazers are 5-2 this season on the road against teams from the Eastern Conference after defeating the Heat 102-95 Wednesday night at American Airlines Arena. CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard combined to score 46 points in the victory, though Portland also got important production from Al-Farouq Aminu (15 points, 13 rebounds), Ed Davis (11 points, five rebounds) and Shabazz Napier (nine points, three steals) to get their first win in over two weeks.

“That's the way you would want it to be,” said Lillard. “CJ can go out there and have a huge game, I can go out there and have a huge game and go steal one from somebody, go out there and get 40 or 50 and carry your team to a win. And then you can have it done by committee where everybody is pitching in and guys are doing things that you need them to do to be successful. And that's the way you would prefer to have it and I think that's how we got it (versus Miami).”

Portland's committee should be larger in Friday night's game, with Meyers Leonard cleared to play after sitting out Wednesday's win due to illness. Center Jusuf Nurkić, who has missed the last three games with a sprained right ankle, was upgraded to questionable for Friday's game.

With both Nurkić and Leonard sidelined, rookie center Zach Collins got the first start of his career versus the Heat and finished with nine points, three rebounds, and a block in 21 minutes.

As for the Magic, they enter Friday's contest having lost three straight and four of their last five, with their most recent being a 106-95 loss to the Clippers on Wednesday. And while the Trail Blazers are getting healthier, the Magic continue to struggle with injuries, with Aaron Gordon (concussion), Arron Afflalo (back) and Jonathan Isaac (ankle) all listed as questionable and Evan Fournier (ankle) and Terrence Ross (MCL, non-displaced tibial fracture) are already listed as out.

Friday's game is the final meeting between the two teams after the Trail Blazers bested the Magic 99-94 on November 15 at the Moda Center. Lillard put up game-highs in points (26), rebounds (11) and assists (seven) to lead the Trail Blazers to the win. Portland won their last game in Orlando, a 112-103 victory on February 23, 2017, though that was their first victory versus the Magic on their home court since the 2010-11 season.

Friday night's game can be seen locally on NBC Sports Northwest with Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd and Brooke Olzendam. Brian Wheeler will have the call on Rip City Radio 620 AM and on all of the stations of the Trail Blazers Radio Network.