The Portland Trail Blazers earned a much-needed victory last time out and look to build on that performance when they visit the injury-ravaged Orlando Magic on Friday night. Portland had dropped five in a row before rallying for a 102-95 victory at Miami on Wednesday as it placed five players in double figures, led by guard CJ McCollum’s 28 points.
“CJ can go out there and have a huge game, I can go out there and have a huge game and (we can) go steal one from somebody,” Trail Blazers leading scorer Damian Lillard told reporters. “And then you can have it done by committee with everybody pitching in and guys doing things that you need them to do to be successful. That’s the way that you prefer to have it and I think that’s how we got it (Wednesday).” The Magic would like to have their entire roster available to do the same, but their top two scorers Evan Fournier (ankle, out) and Aaron Gordon (concussion, questionable) have missed the last three and two games, respectively. Orlando has dropped three straight, including Wednesday’s 106-95 setback against the Los Angeles Clippers as the Magic coughed up an early double-digit lead. “It’s not easy, but it’s part of the job we do,” Orlando center Nikola Vucevic told reporters. “. … Things happen like that. Unfortunately, we have a big amount of guys (hurt) that have huge roles on our team.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN Northwest (Portland), FSN Florida (Orlando)
ABOUT TRAIL BLAZERS (14-13): Portland entered Thursday fifth in the league in points allowed per game (101.3) and sixth in field goal percentage against (44.8) and outscored Miami 32-16 in the fourth quarter Wednesday. “We turned it up in the fourth quarter,” Portland forward Ed Davis told reporters after scoring double figures for the third time this season (11). “We got it done on the defensive end. … We took care of business.” Lillard (26.3 points, 6.1 assists) scored 18 against Miami after recording at least 29 in the first four contests this month and McCollum (21.3) is averaging 25.7 over the last three.
ABOUT MAGIC (11-18): Gordon (18.5 points) and Fournier (18.3) take a big chunk of the offense away and small forward Jonathon Simmons has tried to make up for some of that by averaging 23.3 the last three games. Vucevic (17.2 points, 9.3 rebounds overall) boasts three double-doubles and a triple-double in the past four games and former first-round pick Mario Hezonja scored a season-high 17 against the Clippers. Rookie forward Jonathan Isaac (ankle) has missed 16 straight games while veteran guard Arron Afflalo sat out Wednesday’s contest with a sore back, and both are questionable.
1. Orlando rookie SF Wesley Iwundu made his first career start Wednesday and played a season-high 33 minutes with six points.
2. Portland C Jusuf Nurkic, who is averaging 15.1 points and 7.8 rebounds, is questionable after missing three games with an ankle injury.
3. The Trail Blazers have won three of the last four meetings, including a 99-94 triumph on Nov. 15 in which Lillard and McCollum combined for 50 points.
PREDICTION: Magic 105, Trail Blazers 101