Trail Blazers trio orchestrates win over Magic
PORTLAND, Ore. — The NBA game is trending toward smaller and more athletic units, and the Portland Trail Blazers used that to full advantage Wednesday night at Moda Center.
Guards Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Shabazz Napier combined for 69 points as the Trail Blazers defeated the Orlando Magic 99-94.
Lillard scored 26 points, McCollum 24 and Napier a season-high 19 for the Blazers (8-6), who went with the three-guard lineup to close both halves.
“They went smaller than we were,” Orlando coach Frank Vogel said. “We’re small, but they went even smaller. It hurt us with penetration and the 3-ball.”
Portland won the game at the 3-point line, sinking 14 of 27 attempts while Orlando was going 11 for 29.
Lillard also had a season-high 11 rebounds and seven assists and Napier came off the bench to go 5 for 5 from 3-point range.
“Napier killed us,” Vogel said. “He played a terrific game.”
Orlando led 38-24 early in the second quarter, but Napier scored 11 points in the quarter — nine on three straight 3-pointers — to go ahead 51-47 at the half.
“Me and CJ both played well offensively, but the biggest difference was ‘Bazz,” Lillard said. “What he did off the bench got our energy going. He gave us a punch by scoring, getting his hands on balls defensively, (picking up) the pace of the game. He changed the game in the second quarter.”
Evan Fournier led Orlando (8-7) with 22 points.
“(The Blazers) were just more aggressive than we were,” Fournier said. “We started great, but then they picked it up in the second quarter. They disrupted our rhythm offensively. ... Their whole mindset tonight, we need to find that.”
Orlando jumped to a 13-3 lead in the game’s first three minutes. The Magic, sinking nine of their first 11 shots from the field, were in front 19-10 midway through the first quarter. Orlando took a 33-24 advantage into the second period.
The Magic’s edge was 47-34 midway through the second quarter when Portland finished the half on a 17-0 run to take a four-point lead into the break.
The Blazers increased the margin to 66-55 midway through the third quarter, but the Magic battled back to within 72-69 late in the period. Portland took a 75-71 lead into the final frame.
Fournier’s 3-pointer pushed Orlando in front 81-80 with 6:47 to play. Jusuf Nurkic’s jump hook gave the Blazers back the lead at 82-81. The teams exchanged baskets, then McCollum drained a 3 and Lillard hit a pair at the line for an 89-83 advantage.
Elfrid Payton sank a 3 to cut the difference to 89-86 with 2:58 left. Napier and McCollum answered with back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 95-86 with 1:43 remaining. The Magic never got closer than five the rest of the way.
Portland’s 3-point shooting was the difference, “but it was still a close game,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “We made some tough 3s, but we moved the ball well to the weak side to have some open 3s as well.”
NOTES: Portland has won five of its last six at home against Orlando. ... The Blazers shot 40.0 percent on 2-point shots, 51.9 on 3-point attempts. “I guess we need to shoot more 3s,” Portland G CJ McCollum said. ... The Magic went 1-3 on their four-game road trip. They return home for games against Utah and Indiana, then go back on the road for another four-game swing. “Our toughest stretch of schedule this season,” Orlando coach Frank Vogel said. ... The Trail Blazers rank among the NBA’s top teams in many statistical categories, including rebound percentage (first, .539), free-throw percentage (second, .831), offensive rebounds per game (second, 11.46), 3-point percentage (sixth, .382), blocked shots (5.62, sixth), opponents’ scoring (fourth, 99.0), opponents’ field-goal percentage (third, .433), defensive rating (third, 99.2) and opponents’ 3-point percentage (third, .321). ... Orlando is among the best in 3-point percentage (second, .399), assists (third, 26.31) and opponents’ 3-point percentage (second, .317).