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Magic take down Blazers for third straight win

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The Orlando Magic cooled off after two hot-shooting games, but found other ways to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 102-94 at the Amway Center on Friday night. To win their third game in a row, Orlando’s defense successfully forced Portland to shoot from the outside and forced 19 turnovers that led to 23 Magic points.

Portland’s effectiveness was limited to their guards as their front line could not get anything going. C.J. McCollum led the Blazers with 29 points, followed by his backcourt cohort Damian Lillard with 17. A late barrage of three-pointers allowed forward Al-Farouq Aminu to wind up with 16.

Orlando received strong performances from Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris, who both put up double-doubles. Both scored 25 points, while Harris had 12 rebounds and Vucevic 11. The Magic outrebounded Portland 48-42, with 13 of those rebounds coming on the offensive end.

After taking a 29-26 lead after the first quarter, Portland took a 6-point lead late in the second quarter. A 9-2 Orlando run to close the half gave the Magic a 49-48 lead at the half.

Elfrid Payton scored from close in to give the Magic a 55-53 lead early in the third quarter.  The Magic would never trail again. Vucevic hit an 8-footer with 2:20 to go to give Orlando a 10-point lead, 72-62. They led 74-68 at the end of the third quarter.

With the Magic leading 94-82 with 2:26 remaining, Aminu, Lillard and Allen Crabbe combined to hit four three-pointers that helped Portland cut the deficit to 6. Harris and Payton hit four free throws in the final minute to keep the Blazers at bay.

Despite shooting only 46 percent, Orlando effectively got the ball inside, outscoring Portland 52-18 in the paint. The Magic also had 15 fast break points to 7 for Portland.

The Magic (15-11) try to run their winning streak to four on Sunday when they welcome the Atlanta Hawks to town for a 6 p.m. tip-off.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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