Magic fall in overtime to Trail Blazers – Losing streak continues
The Orlando Magic fell to the Portland Trailblazers 125-119 in overtime Monday night in Portland. The score was tied at 108 at the end of regulation, but fatigue caught up with the Magic, and their losing streak increased to 9 games. Five players logged monster minutes tonight. Coach Vaughn went with McRoberts, Vucevic, Redick, Afflalo and Nelson midway through the 3rd quarter til the end of the game. The shots came up short in the extra period and in what is becoming a trend, they had no answer defensively.
Stats jump off the stat sheet tonight. Jameer Nelson broke Scott Skiles’ Magic assist record early in the first quarter. Nelson and Vucevic recorded double doubles. J.J. Redick finished with 29 points, Arron Afflalo had 24. Josh McRoberts netted 12 points and 8 assists in extended duty. None of these numbers do justice to just how much heart Orlando showed tonight.
The game was a close affair throughout. Orlando held an eight point advantage at halftime, but it was during the 3rd quarter that the true character of this team shined. The Magic were down as much as eight in that quarter and it would have been very easy for them to get down and let this game slip away, but they didnt’. Leadership from the bench to the floor is very obvious. Redick, Afflalo, and Nelson all hit gigantic shots to keep close and finish the 3rd quarter tied.
As a fan, this losing streak is painful. Its hard to watch such a likeable, hard working team come so close nightly, only to have it slip away at the end. Without Glen Davis, the Magic have a glaring issue of interior defense. Tonight the Trailblazers had 60 points in the paint. It seems puzzling that Coach Vaughn won’t experiment with guys off the bench to find a combination that will keep the opposition out of the lane and off the boards. McRoberts plays with heart and is a smart player and fine passer, but he can’t guard many power forwards in this league. But he obviously trust him. In his post game press conference Coach Vaughn again only stressed the positives. Hard work will get this team through this.
Watching this team every night is a strange experience. You love the way they hustle and play together. Yet are frustrated by the lack of defense. They seem to come up with big shots at the right times to keep it close, but in the end you wonder what new way they’ll put the dagger in your heart. Its crushing to watch these losses, yet you can’t help but feel optimistic about the future and hope that this team can stay together. Hopefully you’re nodding your head.
Matt Jensen is new to the MBO team and a proud contributing writer. He operates as MBO’s Sr. Sioux Falls Correspondent. Follow him on Twitter here.