Orlando Magic Grades: Portland Trail Blazers 130, Orlando Magic 107

CJ McCollum and the Portland Trail Blazers torched the Orlando Magic's defense. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
CJ McCollum and the Portland Trail Blazers torched the Orlando Magic's defense. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic defense never got itself right as CJ McCollum and the Portland Trail Blazers routed the Magic with a killer fourth quarter.

130. 34. 107. 38. Final

The Orlando Magic thought they had survived the early storm. They had given up some 3-pointers early in a 7-0 spurt to start the game for the Portland Trail Blazers. But the Magic answered back and took the lead. Nikola Vucevic hit a pair of 3-pointers on his own and the Magic’s offense was rolling again.

Coach Steve Clifford’s warning from Friday that this offense was fool’s gold proved prophetic. He would say after the game the team needed to get back to playing “Magic defense” or they would not even make the playoffs.

The warnings were dire. Clifford did not need to tape to tell him what was evident and would play out for almost the entirety of the rest of the game.

CJ McCollum put any thought to bed early with 17 points in the first quarter, including four 3-pointers. That set all the tone the Blazers would need for a 130-107 win.

Sure, the Magic came back and kept it a game. Terrence Ross caught fire in the second quarter to get Orlando back in the game. The Magic played enough defense in the third quarter to get the deficit down to four.

But it was, as Clifford said, fool’s gold. The Magic could not sustain that offense. They had to rely on their defense. And the defense let them down again and again.

Gary Trent Jr. hit from the outside as the Trail Blazers got inside the lane again and again. Trent scored 14 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, making five of seven shots and two 3-pointers. The Magic could not slow them down and could not keep up.

McCollum put the finishing touches on the game, hitting a series of fadeaways and step-back jumpers to complete a 41-point masterpiece. And put the Magic away. Meanwhile, Orlando’s offensive luck had run out.

The rebounding — 11 offensive rebounds for 17 second-chance points — and 3-point shooting — 14 for 43 for the game and 1 for 8 in the fourth quarter — had run out. Instead what was left is a team that very clearly did not have itself straightened out defensively.

<a href=. C. Orlando Magic. NIKOLA VUCEVIC. C+

C+. One of the questions facing Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford after the game was why he did not go back to <a href=. PG. Orlando Magic. MARKELLE FULTZ

It has been rare this year for <a href=. G/F. Orlando Magic. EVAN FOURNIER. D

B. The Orlando Magic had a lot of moments where they could have folded before the end of the fourth quarter. The Magic were on the rocks on several occasions. And <a href=. G/F. Orlando Magic. TERRENCE ROSS

B+. On a three-game losing streak and without their best player, the Portland Trail Blazers certainly had plenty of motivation to get a win. As much to keep up in the Western Conference playoff race. They had a good sense of what they needed to do and rode CJ McCollum at the beginning. Portland just needed to tighten up defensively.<p>That may not have been the case for every moment of the game. The Orlando Magic had 22 free throws and did a decent job on the offensive glass. Orlando had some great offensive spurts. The Magic were able to stay in the game. But they did not ever really threaten the Trail Blazers’ control of the game.</p><p>Eventually Portland’s offense overtook Orlando in the fourth quarter. The Blazers got whatever they wanted in the quarter. They were always in control of the game. The Magic never had a chance with their poor defensive effort.</p>. 27-35. 9th West. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS

The Orlando Magic are now 27-34 and in a virtual tie with the Brooklyn Nets for seventh in the Eastern Conference. They hold a four-game lead over the Washington Wizards for the final playoff spot.

Orlando Magic's starters struggling to kick off games. dark. Next

The Orlando Magic begin a four-game road trip on Wednesday against the Miami Heat.