Trouble in Portland

Dwight Howard had an excellent performance in Portland tonight, notching a season high 39 points against the Blazers.

Unfortunately, Dwight had little help from his teammates as the Magic (15-7) lost the 97-83 contest to Portland (11-11), leaving the Magic with a third straight loss and questions as to why Orlando has come up short yet again in a road game.

After maintaining a comfortable lead for much of the first half, Orlando closed the first half with only a small 46-45 lead over the Blazers.  Andre Miller then came out energized in the second half and led the Blazers to a double digit win on 22 points and 8 assists.

The Magic were looking for a spark from many players tonight, only to come up short in a variety of ways: 

  • Vince Carter, who has performed quite well in recent games, finished with a lowly 2-12 from the field, including 0-4 from downtown
  • Jameer Nelson, who has also had the look of an all-star in the past few weeks, played 30 minutes and scored a meager 10 points, shooting 4-14
  • The ultimate disappearing act: the Magic bench, while led by Redick with 10 points, was hampered by Bass’s and Duhon’s combined total of two points

After the game, Van Gundy emphasized to the team the need to play “with a lot more energy, alertness and cohesiveness,” hammering home that “results will take care of themselves if you play a certain way.”

While the Magic are riding a three game losing streak, the Blazers have now won their third in a row after a six game skid earlier this season.

Unfortunately for Orlando, the long west coast road trip immediately flies into Salt Lake City to face an impressive Utah squad Friday night.  Hopefully the Magic can get back on track against Deron Williams and the Jazz (16-7).  The breathing room atop the Southeast Division has certainly slimmed up, with the Magic only a half game ahead of Miami and Atlanta.

SOUTHEAST DIVISION W L GB
Orlando 15 7
Miami 15 8 0.5
Atlanta 15 8 0.5
Charlotte 8 13 6.5
Washington 6 15 8.5
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