Playing without head coach Jamahl Mosley, who entered health and safety protocols earlier in the day, the Orlando Magic struggled to get into an offensive rhythm in a 98-88 loss to the visiting Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.
The Blazers closed the first half on a 16-2 run. Jusuf Nurkic, who finished with 21 points and a season-high 22 rebounds, converted on an AND-1 to start the flurry, and Nassir Little, who is from Orlando, scored six of his 13 points during those first half’s final four minutes.
Most of Portland’s damage came in the paint, where they scored 54 points. Turnovers were a problem for both teams, but the Blazers did a better job capitalizing on the Magic’s miscues. Portland scored 22 points off Orlando’s 16 turnovers.
Quote of the Night
“There’s no question there were moments of wow, some surreal moments, for sure. But I think in the NBA, this thing is a machine, it’s a grind, and we are here to compete and to win and to perform at a high level. So, you don’t really have time. I wish I would have taken more time to take it all in, but really what I wanted to do was do the best job I could for our guys, keep them prepared, try to help them with adjustments. So, I was locked in, and I was competing, and I was trying to help our guys win that game. And we struggled to get anything going offensively. And as a head coach, or an assistant coach, you take that on yourself. I feel bad I wasn’t able to help them more try to get a rhythm and try to get hot offensively.” Magic Acting Head Coach Jesse Mermuys on leading the team with Mosley in protocols
Wendell Carter Jr. (hamstring), Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), Markelle Fultz (left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), and E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain) were out for Orlando. Damian Lillard (abdominal surgery), Norman Powell (return to competition reconditioning), Larry Nance Jr. (knee), and Cody Zeller (knee) were unavailable for Portland.
This Day in History
On Jan. 17, 1992, Scott Skiles racked up a career-best 41 points and handed out nine assists in a Magic win over the Pacers. Jerry Reynolds posted 21 points, Nick Anderson scored 18 and Jeff Turner had 12. Chuck Person led Indiana with 29 points, while Rik Smits scored 23 and Reggie Miller had 22.
The bad news for Portland is that Lillard will be out for the next several weeks after having surgery to address an adnominal injury. The good news is that with Lillard out, Anfernee Simons, an Altamonte Springs, Florida native, has exploded onto the scene. Going into Monday’s action, Simons was averaging 28.3 points in January, fourth most in the league this month behind Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 32.3, Joel Embiid’s 30.5 and LeBron James’ 30.5. The Blazers also got a big boost on Monday with the return of C.J. McCollum, who was out for over a month due to a collapsed lung.
The Magic’s last road game of January will take place Wednesday in Philadelphia at 7 p.m. A five-game homestand will follow. This will be the third of four meetings this season between the Magic and 76ers. The last one occurred on Jan. 5 at Amway Center with the Sixers prevailing behind 31 points from Embiid and 22 points from Tobias Harris. Before their MLK Day loss to the Wizards, Philly had won nine of their prior 10 games.