ArronAfflaloMagic_WesleyMatthewsBlazers010814

Blazers defense just enough for their offense


Craig Mitchelldyer/USA TODAY

The Portland defense is notorious for its porous nature.

Despite being near the top of the Western Conference, the Trail Blazers are not among the tops in the league for their defense. But their offense. Oh, their offense.

In a flash, it can change the game completely and make a close game and solid performance look like a blowout. The Magic learned that lesson the hard way as their offensive struggles continued in the face of a 12-minute onslaught from the Trail Blazers.

Wesley Matthews scored 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, carving up the Magic defense and sparking the Trail Blazers bench to a come-from-behind performance in the opening stages.

In those final 12 minutes, Portland outscored Orlando 39-19 and shot 5 of 10 from beyond the arc and 60.7 percent from the floor. The Magic did not have the same offensive answers that Portland did, a team that is growing more comfortable with itself and with all the offensive options at its disposal.

When Thomas Robinson comes off the bench and goes +22 in the fourth quarter, it is not going to be an easy night. Nicolas Batum completed a triple double with seven of his 14 assists in the fourth quarter as the Trail Blazers won going away 110-94 at Moda Center on Wednesday.

  Score Off. Rtg. eFG% O.Reb.% TO% FTR
Orlando 94 99.1 44.0 21.7 9.5 32.5
Portland 110 113.7 52.1 25.6 6.5 13.7

{youtube}ZlLvsEhmuSc{/youtube}

The final score was not indicative of how the Magic played throughout however. The fourth quarter was only the Magic's inability to score consistently catching up with them. 

To that point, Orlando was able to get stops when the team needed, to attack the basket and get to the foul line and to dictate the tempo of the game.

Arron Afflalo scored 18 of his 22 points in the first half to keep pace with LaMarcus Aldridge — 21 of his 36 points in the first half. The Magic got stops and got out on the break and dictated the tempo. They finished with 12 fast break points. It seemed like Orlando was able to get into the lane and create offense in a way the team has not done so all year.

Portland was helping matters by missing shots and relying solely on Aldridge for good chunks. Damian Lillard was a bit off his game too. Orlando took advantage of that and built a 12-point lead.

But the Magic's offense is still pretty inconsistent. There is still not an easy way for this team to score. That caught up with Orlando no matter how many times the team fought back from Portland runs. The fourth quarter was the Magic running out of chances to put the game away.

{youtube}yIdCl5fdOgo{/youtube}

In the end, the Magic shot 39.8 percent from the floor, relying heavily on outside and mid-range shots.

Afflalo ended with 22 points, just four in the second half. Glen Davis scored 16 points on 7-for-18 shooting. Jameer Nelson recorded a double double with 17 points and 10 assists, really probing the defense and helping Orlando push into a second-half lead. But he too needed a lot of shots and was 6 for 18 from the floor. Victor Oladipo had 14 points on 3-for-8 shooting, including an amazing block on a Damian Lillard dunk attempt.

Really with those efficiency numbers it was any wonder the Magic were in the lead at all. One bad quarter from everybody will do that.

Orlando's bench disappeared after a strong performance in the second quarter to build that early lead. Mo Williams and Matthews stepped up to give the Blazers the energy and boost to run away with things in the fourth quarter. When Jacque Vaughn reloaded with his starters, the tide could not be stopped.

The Magic though showed resiliency and withstood so many Trail Blazers runs and fought back that it should be noted and commended.

It just was not enough. The final 12 minutes were too much to overcome.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

Quantcast