Magic aim to stop slide at Portland
(Sports Network) - The Orlando Magic have struggled finding a way to win games down the stretch and it has resulted in the club's longest losing streak in nearly seven years.
The Magic head out west to begin a four-game road trip on Monday night, hoping to avoid their ninth straight setback in the opener against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Orlando finished up a winless four-game homestand on Saturday with a 114-106 defeat to the New York Knicks, carrying an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter before getting outscored 33-17 in the frame. The Magic had won the third quarter by a 34-22 margin.
Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo each scored 29 points for the Magic, who have dropped eight straight for the first time since Feb. 6-22, 2006. Nikola Vucevic finished with 11 points and 18 rebounds in the loss, his 15th double- double of the season.
"We have to learn how to win, if that makes sense," said Afflalo. "The coaches are doing a great job in term of the schemes and game plans. We're definitely competing hard as players, but we need to learn how to win."
All eight losses have come since forward Glen Davis suffered a sprained left shoulder that has him on the sidelines, and five have been by four points or less. Another close setback tonight would give Orlando its longest slide since dropping 13 straight from March 13-April 10, 2004.
Portland's recent run also presents Orlando with another challenge. The Trail Blazers have won 10 of their last 13 and Saturday's 102-97 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves improved the club to 9-2 in games decided by six points or less this season.
Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews both knocked down five 3-pointers and finished with 26 points as Portland tied a franchise record with 16 makes from behind the 3-point line.
"We got hot, we were taking good ones and shots were falling for us," Matthews said. "The team was finding us and the ball was moving and we were able to knock them down."
Damian Lillard added 20 points and six assists for the Blazers, who went 3-1 on a four-game road trip. LaMarcus Aldridge donated 14 points and nine rebounds to the win.
"Going into this road trip we talked about what it would take to win on the road from an individual and team standpoint," noted Blazers coach Terry Stotts. "We are pretty determined and we went into some places that are pretty difficult to play and came up with the win."
It was the Magic who came into Portland last season and picked up a victory, grabbing a 107-104 victory in the only meeting between the teams. They snapped a three-game series losing streak thanks to seven different players scoring in double figures, led by J.J. Redick's 17 points.
Aldridge had 23 points and eight rebounds in the loss, while Matthews finished with 17 points.