Losing a dozen games in a row is never fun, especially when you're doing so at less than full strength. The Orlando Magic aren't at full strength and won't be for the rest of the season, but the return of J.J. Redick provided a spark for the slumping squad, which defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 110-104 on Sunday night at the Amway Center.
"When teams made runs over the last X-amount of games, we kind of shut down a little bit," Magic point guard Jameer Nelson said. "Tonight we didn't, we were up and they cut it to three or four. We just kept playing our game. We played well enough to win tonight."
Following a three-game absence due to a sore right shoulder, Redick led the Magic (15-36) with 22 points in 29 minutes off the bench, making 9 of 13 shots, including 2 of 4 from 3-point range. Nikola Vucevic notched 17 points and 19 rebounds, while Gustavo Ayon added 16 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, Andrew Nicholson and Arron Afflalo finished with 14 points apiece and Nelson tallied 10 points and a career-high 15 assists.
For Portland (25-26), LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and six rebounds, with Nicolas Batum adding 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists, Wesley Matthews recording 17 points and J.J. Hickson scoring 11 points to go with eight boards. Damian Lillard was the only starter who didn't reach double figures in scoring after shooting a horrendous 1 of 16 from the field, including 0 of 8 from behind the arc, en route to a four-point, 12-assist effort.
The Trail Blazers outshot Orlando 42 of 83 (50.6%) to 47 of 93 (50.5%) from the field and 10 of 27 (37.0%) to 5 of 15 (33.3%) from long range, but were outrebounded 50-38 and managed 46 points in the paint compared to 60 for the Magic. The hosts forced Portland into 14 turnovers, which they converted into 18 points.
Trailing 26-22 after the first quarter, Orlando beat Portland 33-23 in the second period and 24-23 in the third frame before being outscored 32-31 in the fourth.
"You always want to see the fruits of your labor and in this business it's wins and losses and it's just good for the guys' psyche overall," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "But we've stayed firm in our approach and guys have been unbelievable throughout this process.
"I think they see their hard work and the lessons that they're learning along the way, they'll add up for us."
Orlando hosts Atlanta on Wednesday in its final game before the All-Star break. Tip-off is set for 7:00 pm on FS Florida.
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