The Blazers jumped out to a 31-19 lead at the end of the first quarter after making five of their 12 three-point attempts.
It looked like two days in between games did the Blazers good with their aggressive defense early. They had active hands and put pressure on the Magic’s guards and frontcourt.
Playing as a team on that end and Damian Lillard’s aggressive play helped the Blazers secure a 106-97 victory over the banged up Magic.
Orlando was without Michael Carter-Williams (left foot; sprain), Evan Fournier (low back; spasms), Markelle Fultz (left knee; torn ACL), Aaron Gordon (left ankle; sprain), and Jonathan Isaac (left knee; injury recovery).
Tuesday marked the first time that former Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu made his return to the court since suffering a knee injury that has kept him out since November 2019.
Lillard led the way in the win with 36 points after going 9-for-22 from the field and a perfect 13-for-13 from the free throw line.
Robert Covington led the way on the defensive end making sure to keep his team focused on not allowing the Magic to get wide-open looks. Enes Kanter, who had a tough assignment slowing down Nikola Vucevic, worked to keep Vucevic in check. The Blazers even went with a small-ball lineup with Covington bodying up the Magic center.
Portland saw Gary Trent Jr. get buckets in a variety of ways -- attacking the rim and hitting from the deep corner. He led the way at halftime with 15 points. Trent Jr. has become a reliable scorer for the Blazers, especially with CJ McCollum out.
The Blazers rookie CJ Elleby made the most of his eight first-half minutes. He was active on the defensive end and once again showed no fear for a rookie.
Jusuf Nurkic, CJ McCollum, and Zach Collins all returned to Moda Center to support their team from the bench. With all three away from the team rehabbing as of late, it’s always good to see the whole team together again.
McCollum was coaching from the sideline having conversations with Elleby and Anfernee Simons throughout the game.
Damian Lillard kicked it up a notch in the third quarter, scoring from inside and out. And it was Anfernee Simons who caught fire from deep in the third, while Carmelo Anthony followed suit in the fourth.
The Blazers let off the gas late in the second quarter to allow the Magic to cut the lead to seven at the break.
Portland had its chances in the third quarter to put Orlando away, but just when it seemed like the Blazers were going to run away this one, the Magic went on a run with the help of Terrence Ross scoring in bunches off the bench.
This seems to be automatic for Gary Trent Jr. these days:
Carmelo Anthony moved into the No. 12 spot on the all-time scoring list past Oscar Robertson. Melo needed 12 points to move up the list heading into Tuesday’s game. The 18-year veteran finished with 23 points in the win.
Next up: Portland continues its three-game homestand with game number two Thursday night on national television. The Blazers and Sixers will tip-off at 7:00p.m. PST on TNT.