PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Portland's pick and roll nearly undid the Magic.
Orlando led by 23 points against the Trail Blazers on Wednesday night, but allowed Portland to close to within three points in the final minutes.
The reason? Portland figured out how to work the pick and roll around Dwight Howard.
``Yeah, we saw something,' Blazers guard Jamal Crawford said. ``We saw that it was keeping Howard away from the basket.'
Ultimately, it was too late for the Blazers, and the Magic survived the rally to win 107-104. Howard had 13 points and 13 rebounds.
``It got tough for us late in the game,' Howard shrugged.
The Blazers closed in on the Magic when Nicolas Batum's layup and LaMarcus Aldridge's wide-open jumper made it 96-93 with 2:38 left. Hedo Turkoglu answered for Orlando with a layup and a 3-pointer that appeared to seal the victory.
But Portland narrowed it again when Crawford and Wesley Matthews hit consecutive layups to make it 102-99 with 32.1 seconds to go. After Jason Richardson made a free throw, Crawford's finger-roll layup kept it close, but J.J. Reddick made four foul shots down the stretch.
Aldridge made a 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left as the rally fell short.
``We played pretty well for 38 minutes, and then we were just awful against the presses and the traps, and the high pick and roll at the end,' Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said.
The Magic (7-3) made 16 of 27 3-point attempts, a season high. By the end of the third quarter, all of Orlando's starters were in double figures.
Redick finished with 17 points off the bench for Orlando. Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson and Ryan Anderson each had 16.
Crawford had 24 points off the bench for the Blazers (7-3), who had won all six of their previous games at home this season, including a 105-97 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.
But the victory may have cost them energy-wise against the Magic. The Blazers allowed Orlando to open the game with an easy 8-0 run, which included three straight layups and a dunk by Richardson.
The Magic pushed the lead to 26-15 late in the first quarter after Chris Duhon's 3-pointer. Orlando, one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the league, made 6 of 8 in the first quarter alone as they built a 36-22 lead.
``They got off to a fast start, and at that point you have to play almost perfect to win the game,' Crawford said.
Orlando went on to lead by 20 points before the break, but Portland closed to 57-47 on Gerald Wallace's layup with a minute left and the Blazers trailed 62-50 at the break.
The Magic made 11 of 18 3-point attempts in the half, and shot 63 percent overall from the field.
Howard's slam dunk midway through the third quarter gave the Magic their biggest margin of the game at 81-58.
``When we are focused we are a good team,' Nelson said. ``We were focused tonight for 38 minutes.'
The Blazers closed to 90-80 on Wallace's 3-pointer with 8:01 left in the game. Portland inched closer when Matthews made a 3-pointer and Wallace hit a pair of free throws to close to 96-89 with 3:56 to go.
Orlando was well-rested, having not played since a 104-97 victory at Sacramento on Sunday.
Aldridge finished with 23 for Portland.
NOTES: Magic forward Quentin Richardson, out with a sprained left ankle, could return on Monday when the Magic visits the Knicks. Richardson, averaging 2.3 points and 2.0 rebounds a game, has missed three games. ... Former Blazers guard and fan favorite Patty Mills was at the game. ... Crawford extended his NBA record with his 34th 4-point play in the first half. ... Orlando just missed besting the Trail Blazers' record for most 3-pointers made in a half by an opponent. Milwaukee made 12 against Portland in January 2001. ... The magic made nine of 19 free throws, for a season-low 47.4 percent.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved