Blazers defeat Magic 122-119 in back and forth battle

ORLANDO, FL – After a two and one road trip, the Orlando Magic return home to face Damian Lillard and the Portland Trailblazers at the Amway Center on Sunday night.

Both teams are working to make the playoffs as teams scramble for the final spots.

The Blazers pulled off a 122-119 victory over the Magic with clutch end of game play and having Damian Lillard’s experience at the point.

Orlando, Florida, USA, March 5, 2023, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard #0 attempt to score but is fouled in the fourth quarter at the Amway Center. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

The Blazers are coming into Orlando on a three game losing streak, and are looking to right the ship.

Orlando started the game missing Gray Harris and Wendell Carter Jr. was a late scratch with hip pin. Moritz Wagner replaced Carter in the starting lineup. Admiral Scofield went out in the third quarter with a concussion. 

Portland started the game up by taking a 6-0 lead before Paolo Banchero scored Orlando’s first points with two free throws, but after that, the game was a back and forth affair.

There were 12 lead changes in the game and 14 ties through the night.

Portland ended the first quarter with a 31-27 lead, but that would the larges point differential during the quarters for the rest of the night, and the teams seemed to go blow for blow with scoring runs going back and forth between the sides. No one was able to take control of the game.

As for Lillard, the Magic were able to keep his three-point scoring under control, but he still managed to make an impact in other ways. amazingly, they kept Lillard to 4 for 16 from deep, yet he still scored 41 points.

Orlando, Florida, USA, March 5, 2023, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard #0 attempt to score but is fouled in the fourth quarter at the Amway Center. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

When you look at the stat sheet, you can see the he made a chunk of the difference from the free throw line, going 17 for 20 from the stripe.

A lot of Lillard’s dishes went to Jeramy Grant, who scored 20 points, scoring 9 from deep and going seven for seven from the stripe.

Banchero wound up leading the Magic in scoring in the first half with 16 points on 7-7 shooting from the field. Paolo would end up leading the Magic with 26 points and 5 rebounds. 

Jalen Suggs was taken with covered Lillard on the night, and quickly went to the bench with to personal fouls in the first quarter. Wagner and Fultz stepped in to cover Lillard.

Orlando, Florida, USA, March 5, 2023, Orlando Magic player Franz Wagner #22 makes a dunk during the first half at the Amway Center. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

All of the Magic starters scored in double figures on the night, and the Magic got good defensive play from Bol Bol off of the bench, with 9 points and 8 rebounds, a lot of them clutch rebounds later in the game.

Portland had 17 turnovers leading to 23 Magic points, while Orlando kept it in control with 11 turnovers leading to 17 Blazers points.

Sunday’s game was an interior battle, as Orlando scored 58 of their points in the paint, and as Lillard was denied the outside shot, he drive it inside for the score or often to dish out to spot three point shooters on the wings.

“These are great experiences for these guys, even though we didn’t get the result that we were looking for” Said Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley “They’ve got to do the little things, and that’s what we continue to communicate. They’ve got to do the little things  to finish things out, and that includes stepping in there win confidence and knocking them (free throws) down.”

The Magic went 24 for 31 from the free throw line for 77% shooting on the night. Those are free baskets that would have definitely made a difference in the game. 

The Magic next face the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday March 7th at the Amway Center, as the continue to try to push towards the final playoff spot.

The Magic still remain 4 games back from the final playoff spot.

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