It’s all about making shots. The Trail Blazers made them and the Orlando Magic didn’t Friday night in Moda Center.
The Blazers made 50 percent of their shots from the floor, including 47.2 percent with 17 made threes, to take care of business in a 118-103 win. The Magic, meanwhile, shot just 36.8 percent from the floor and only 25 percent of their 28 three-point attempts.
It was Portland’s third straight win and the overall quality of the Blazers’ play has improved during that stretch. Damian Lillard was asked if the improvement has been greater on offense or defense.
“I think both,” he said. “Even when we weren’t playing well, we’d find a way to score points. We’ve always found a way. But I think our offense has improved even from that because of the way we’re defending. We’re not playing against a set defense as often if we’re able to get the ball and kind of push it and get out and they’re off balance. We’re playing against something different than what we started off the season playing against every night – just a set defense because we were getting scored on every time.”
The Trail Blazers had Lillard and CJ McCollum rolling on the same night – something that hasn’t happened this season as often as it has in the past.
Both guards shot at least 50 percent from the field and from three and the only other time they’ve done that in the same game this season was Dec. 5 vs. Sacramento. And, for the second straight game, each scored in the 30s.
“Those two guys do that against everybody,” Orlando Coach Steve Clifford said. “They’re a little bit different. They are hard to (defend).”
Lillard was 13-21 and 7-13 for 36 points while McCollum was 12-21 and 4-8 for 31.
It was only the third time in franchise history when a pair has gone for 30 apiece in back-to-back games.
“I think we’re defending better,” McCollum said. “That’s the most important thing for us. Offensively, we usually figure things out. We’ve got to do a better job of staying locked in and engaged at the defensive end, preventing second-chance opportunities and those little things. We’ve been doing that better the last three games.”
The defensive rebounds were a problem again for the Trail Blazers, as they allowed the Magic a season-high 18 offensive rebounds. Portland survived this game in large part because the Magic were able to turn those into just 19 points, missing 14 of their 21 second-chance shots.
The Blazers got 10 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks from Hassan Whiteside and that led to a 43-30 rebounding edge for the home team.
Portland won the game while getting just 9:24 out of Carmelo Anthony, who banged knees with somebody – he wasn’t sure who – and had to leave the game in the second quarter. But afterward, he didn’t seem to think it was serious.
“I intend to play tomorrow,” he said with a smile.
The Trail Blazers play host to Minnesota Saturday night in the second of a rare back-to-back home situation.