Blazers Jump Out Early, Cruise Past Magic

Good morning Blazers fans, Antonio here. The Blazers got a treat Tuesday night when they played one of the few NBA teams more injured than themselves. The Magic were missing Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, and Markelle Fultz, and have been struggling since a 6-2 start.

All the pieces were in place for a typical Blazers trap game. However, Portland jumped out to an early lead and kept a seven to 17 point lead the rest of the game, keeping the Magic at bay for every run to take home a 106-97 victory. Let’s take a look.

Blazers Play Defense?

Against all odds, the Portland Trail Blazers held a team to below 100 points. Maybe it was the return of Al-Farouq Aminu to the Moda Center (The former Blazers played his first game in over a year, failing to score in five minutes), but Portland swarmed the Magic and forced rushed shots.

In fact, they even forced a shot clock violation.

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Have the Blazers ever forced a shot clock violation? I’m stunned

The game was a continuation of the last four minutes of Sunday’s game against the Knicks: The Blazers played together as a core defensive unit. Was it perfect? No, in fact, it was barely passable. The Magic missed open threes all over the place. But for a team that has been playing atrocious defensively, passable is a huge step up.

Gary Trent Just Keeps Shooting

I’ve been critical of Carmelo Anthony these last few games, but it’s time I address another player with a similar problem: Gary Trent. Portland’s second-round darling is scoring 14 points and shooting 43% from three. It seems he can do no wrong.

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The tale of his two halves against Orlando can show Trent’s downsides, but also his skills. The first half has Gary on fire, making his first three shots and leading the charge for Portland. At halftime, he had 15 points and was leading the team in scoring.

Then the second half came. Trent failed to score and missed on some pretty mediocre looks. He did not have the same fire as the first half, but still contributed in other ways, providing nice on-ball defense. 

Some Blazers fans overrate his scoring, some Blazers fans underrate his other assets. But no matter what they think, Gary Trent will keep shooting. And most of the time, connecting.

Playing From the Front

The Blazers are not used to a nice lead staying nice. When the team jumped out to a large lead in the first quarter, I asked my friend Cade, “When do you think we’ll blow this?” His answer was by halftime. I guessed the middle of the second.

The blown lead never came. Blazer fans are all too familiar with a 20 point lead reduced to ashes in a matter of minutes. It’s become a common theme. However, off of two and a half full days of rest, Portland made sure that they would not give up another lead. It was the first time I had watched a Blazer game and felt comfortable with a seven point lead. It felt nice.

Next Up: Philadelphia tries to get revenge from their February 4th loss in a rematch in Portland.

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