Blazers extend dominance over struggling Magic
Jusuf Nurkic had 21 points and a season-high 22 rebounds, CJ McCollum scored 16 points in a successful return to the lineup, and the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the host Orlando Magic 98-88 on Monday night.
The Magic announced prior to tipoff that head coach Jamahl Mosley and assistant coach Nate Tibbetts had entered the league’s health and safety protocols. Assistant coach Jesse Mermuys ran the team as Orlando lost its eighth straight home game and 12th in its last 13 overall.
Orlando’s Wendell Carter Jr., who has a team-high 19 double-doubles this season, also missed his sixth consecutive game due to a sore left hamstring.
After missing the last 18 games recovering from a collapsed right lung, McCollum returned to the starting lineup on Monday and went 7-for-13 from the field in 28 minutes. Ben McLemore added 14 points, including four 3-pointers, off the bench.
Central Florida native Anfernee Simons (13 points, seven assists) continued a terrific offensive stretch in January by scoring in double figures for the seventh straight game. Another Florida native, Nassir Little, contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds to Portland’s second straight road win.
The Trail Blazers entered the game ranked last in team defensive rating (114.9), but they effectively used a zone to help limit Orlando to 37.8 percent shooting (34-for-90) from the field.
Portland also benefited from a 55-50 rebounding edge as Robert Covington grabbed 11, and Little had five of the Trail Blazers’ 11 offensive boards.
Portland, which has won the last 10 meetings with Orlando going back to the 2016-17 season, outscored the Magic 27-21 in the third quarter for an 81-61 lead.
The Trail Blazers led 54-40 at halftime after Orlando missed 17 of its first 20 shots, including all 10 attempts from beyond the arc.
Franz Wagner and Moe Wagner paced Orlando with 14 points apiece. Gary Harris and Jalen Suggs each had 10, and Cole Anthony posted nine points, nine rebounds and six assists.
Mo Bamba recorded four blocked shots, raising his career total to 280 and moving him into eighth place on the Magic’s all-time list. Bamba finished with five points and nine rebounds.
— Field Level Media