Despite a rash of injuries, the Portland Trailblazers Blazers keep churning out wins. The Blazers defeated the Orlando Magic by a score of 106-97. This win means the Blazers have picked up three wins in their last four outings.
With the rotation depleted, the healthy players for Portland have been stepping up in a big way. Blazers point guard Damian Lillard continued to lead the charge for Portland. Lillard finished with a team-high 36 points while shooting 50% from beyond the arc. His limitless range was on full display, as he continues to show why he is one of the top point guards in the NBA. Guard Gary Trent Jr. added 15 points, while Anfernee Simons also added 11 points of the Blazers’ bench.
The play from the Blazers reserves was very encouraging. Simons has shown a lot of growth from last season and is starting to live up to his first-round billing. His outside shot is falling at a much higher rate, and he has shown significant improvement as a finisher and passer out of the pick and roll. This is an excellent sign for the Blazers, as using Simons as the primary ball-handler will allow Portland to rest Lillard more often and save him for the biggest moments of the game.
Historic Night For Blazers’ Anthony
The Blazers’ biggest contributor off the bench was forward Carmelo Anthony. He finished with 23 points while shooting 55% from three. Anthony’s 23 points were a season-high for the veteran forward.
It was also a historic night for Anthony, as he moved into 12th place on the all-time scorers’ list. Anthony went into the night 18 points behind legendary guard Oscar Robertson. His all-time point total now stands at 26,715 points. Former Rockets big man Hakeem Olajuwon is currently one spot in front of Anthony on the all-time scorers’ list. Olajuwon finished his career with 26,946 points.
With the loss to Portland, Orlando has now dropped 6 of their last seven games. Center Nikola Vuecivic was the Magic’s top performer. He finished with 27 points and 15 rebounds on the night. Despite the strong scoring outing, Vuecevic shot only 2-7 from beyond the arc. Usually an efficient shooter, Vuecivic struggled to get his shot going tonight.
It was an especially abnormal performance given that he was matched up against Portland center Enes Kanter for most of the game. While Kanter has a lot of strengths in his game, perimeter defense is not one of them. A slow-footed individual, Kanter’s closeouts on perimeter shots leave a lot to be desired. Tonight was no different, but Vuecivic could not seem to get his shot to fall.