ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Damian Lillard scored 34 of his game-high 41 points as the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Orlando Magic by the score of 128-114. Lillard set not only the Blazers team record for points in a half, but he also scored the most points by a Blazer against the Magic in the team’s history.
Lillard finished the game shooting 13 for 23 from the floor, he hit five three-pointers and went 10 for 12 from the free throw line. After a 2 for 8 start in the opening half, he exploded in the 3rd quarter. He went 8 for 10 shooting from the field. He used a combination of drives and shots from the three point line to get himself going. He finished with 19 in the quarter by himself.
Then in the fourth, he followed that up by scoring 15 in final quarter. On top of the 41 points, he added 7 rebounds and 6 assists as well.
“Dame’s [Damian Lillard] second half performance was pretty good. I thought our offense was very good most of the night. We let them back in the game, but we kept the margin, kind of kept them at bay, so that was good.” – Portland Head Coach Terry Stotts on Damian Lillard
Even with Lillard’s second half, the Magic kept the game close. Down as many as 13 in the fourth quarter, the Magic went on a 10-0 run. The run was capped off by Aaron Gordon hitting a 3-pointer with 7:55 left to make the score 102-99. But that was the closest Orlando would get the rest of the game.
Stotts called a timeout and Lillard, C.J. McCollum (21 points) and Jusuf Nurkic (18 points and 10 rebounds) returned into the game. After the timeout, the Blazers scored 8 points in 67 seconds. Both Lillard and McCollum hit 3-pointers and Damian added a layup over Mohamed Bamba, as the Blazers extended the lead to 11 points.
On top of Lillard’s performance, the Magic struggled defensively against the NBA’s 4th fastest team on the offensive side of the ball. Portland shot 55% from the floor and knocked down 11 of out 27 from the three-point line.
“We just have to be more consistent. If we’re going to defend like that we’re not going to give ourselves a chance to have sustained weeks or two or three weeks of good play. You’ve got to be able to play both offense and defense and this, by the way, has nothing to do with talent…Lillard’s great and McCollum is too. But the bottom line tonight is, when you allow those guys to play with so much freedom and you lack the discipline to follow the game plan, then they’re going to get going, and that’s what happened. We can’t be like that. No team can be like that.” Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford on his team’s lack of defensive focus
Orlando will travel on the road on Saturday as they take on the Milwaukee Bucks. Their next game at home will be on Tuesday against the Sacramento Kings.
Danny Thompson is a sports reporter for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org