Second-Quarter Run Sets Up Trail Blazers' Victory Versus Magic

by Casey Holdahl
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PORTLAND -- The Portland Trail Blazers looked left for dead early on in Wednesday night’s game versus the Orlando Magic at the Moda Center. Not even four minutes had elapsed before the Trail Blazers, despite coming off an emphatic victory Monday night versus the Nuggets, fell behind by 10 points after the Magic made six of their first seven shots.

It didn’t look much much better after roughly the first 20 minutes of the first half, with the Magic going up by as many as 14 points in the second quarter.

But a 17-0 run in the final 5:44 of the first half gave the Trail Blazers a lead and enough momentum to ride out the second half on the way to defeating the Magic 99-94 in front of 19,206 at the Moda Center.

With the victory the Trail Blazers are now 8-6 overall and 6-4 at home this season. The win is also Portland’s fifth in their last six tries versus Orlando at the Moda Center.

As with every game-changing runs, the Trail Blazers needed to be at their best on both sides of the ball go score 17-straight. On defense, Portland forced five turnovers in the final five minutes of the second half while holding the Magic to just 14 points in the quarter.

“We got stops and we got out and ran, I think that was the difference,” said McCollum of their second-quarter run. “They were comfortable in the first quarter, they were able to run some of their sets, take open jump shots and kind of free flow. But in the second quarter we turned up the intensity a little bit defensively, we got stops and three-pointers in transition, tips off of rebounds and things like that.”

And on offense, the combination of CJ McCollum going 4-of-5 for eight points and Shabazz Napier going 4-of-7 from the field and 3-of-3 from three for 11 second-quarter points gave Portland the scoring pop they needed to take advantage of their suffocating defense.

“I think me and CJ, we both played well offensively but the biggest difference was (Napier)," said Damian Lillard. "I think what ‘Bazz did off the bench got our energy going. He gave us a punch – scoring the ball, getting his hands on balls defensively, the pace of the game – he changed the game in the second quarter.”

That game change in the second quarter would be enough for Portland to secure the victory. The lead would only change twice in the second half with Portland outscoring Orlando by just a single point in the final 24 minutes.

"I felt like we showed a lot of resiliency today being down at the beginning, which is great to see us bounce back," said Napier. "Not from a loss but just from the beginning of the game and to get our second wind."

The Trail Blazers were led by Lillard, who went 9-of-21 from the field and 5-of-10 from three to finish with 26 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in 37 minutes. In the process, Lillard passed Mychal Thompson for 8th all-time in franchise history in scoring.

McCollum went 8-of-17 from the field and 4-of-7 from three for 24 points to go with four rebounds, three assists and three steals in 38 minutes.

Napier, who has been a revelation as of late, went a perfect 5-of-5 from three to finish with 19 points and three steals in 26 minutes.

"I’ll tell you what, if he goes 5-for-5 from three every night, that’s a good thing for us," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts of Napier's performance. I’ll go out on a limb and say that’s really good... He gives us a spark. On a night where Evan kind of struggled a little bit and Pat missed his shots, it was a big spark."

The 6-1 guard in his fourth season out of UCONN is averaging 12.5 points on 60 percent shooting from the field and 78 percent shooting from three, 1.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 rebounds in his last four games.

“When I get in the game, my mindset is just kind of to spark whichever way I can, defensively, offensively," said Napier. "Sometimes I’m fortunate enough to put my hands on balls and sometimes I’m not, it’s just being ready."

Jusuf Nurkic added 11 pints, eight rebounds and five assists in 32 minutes.

Six Magic players scored in double figures led by 22 points from Evan Fournier.

With their six-game homestand now complete, the Trail Blazers head to Sacramento for the first of a home and road back-to-back versus the Kings. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.