PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS OVERCOME ORLANDO MAGIC 106-99
Long drought spells end of winning streak
By Brian Schmitz | Sentinel Staff Writer
Monday, November 10, 2008 | Home Game
Dwight Howard sniffled and covered his mouth to cough.
"There's a virus going around the team," he said.
Well, that's one explanation for the sick day the Orlando Magic took on the offensive end Monday night.
The Magic (4-3) went so long without a field goal in a 106-99 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers . . . you'd have thought they had taken up soccer.
The team that became an NBA scoring machine last season went for more than 11 minutes without a field goal in the second half at Amway Arena.
The Incredible Drought, spanning the third and fourth quarters, was responsible for ending the Magic's four-game winning streak and cost them a chance to set a club record. They were attempting to become the first team in the 20-year history of the franchise to record a 5-0 homestand.
A case can be made that the Magic aren't yet ready for prime-time. Orlando has played seven games -- and lost to the only two teams that have winning records: the Atlanta Hawks and the Trail Blazers.
Howard said, "It's only one game," but the Magic have sputtered offensively in losses to Atlanta and Memphis and weren't at full throttle against Chicago.
Subject them to DNA testing because they haven't regained their identity yet. They are a free-wheeling gang of 3-point shooters who play off Howard in an inside-out attack.
But when the shots don't fall, especially the 3s, the ball movement stops. The Magic lose their patience and revert to their playground days, going one-on-one.
"Once the ball stops going in," Coach Stan Van Gundy said, "we just sort of lose it. . . . When the ball doesn't go in the basket, we start feeling the pressure. The hard part is holding our composure and staying with our game."
Orlando hit just 7 of 24 3-pointers and is shooting 31 percent after firing at a 38-percent clip last season.
"Offensively, we weren't clicking. The ball was sticking. It seemed like everybody was going for their own shot," forward Rashard Lewis said.
The Magic still shot 45 percent -- thanks mostly to Howard shooting 8 of 11 and Hedo Turkoglu going 11 of 21.
An amazing stat was that Turkoglu scored a season-high 35 points and Howard had 29 along with 19 rebounds -- and the offense largely was the culprit.
The Magic took a brief lead, 72-68 in the third period, on back-to-back baskets by the suddenly slumping Lewis, who is the poster child for the offensive woes.
Lewis' second basket came with four minutes and 28 seconds left in the quarter, and the Magic couldn't score again until Turkoglu made a layup with 5:25 left in the game. By that time, the Blazers were comfortably ahead 87-77.
During the 11:03 drought, the Magic were outscored 19-3, their only points coming on free throws. They committed seven turnovers and also missed five free throws.
Keith Bogans was responsible for all the Magic's bench scoring, with 12 points. Lewis scored just six points, missing eight of 11 shots. Shooting guard Mickael Pietrus again got into early foul trouble and finished with only seven points.
Only hours after Van Gundy praised his club's recent defensive efforts, it allowed the Blazers to shoot 62 percent in the opening period, giving the young athletic team confidence.
The Blazers made only six turnovers and were 9 of 17 from 3-point range (52.9 percent), and guard Brandon Roy led a balanced scoring attack with 27 points. Point guard Steve Blake and reserve forward Travis Outlaw each added 20 points while forward LaMarcus Aldridge and guard Rudy Fernandez scored 16 apiece.
The Magic hit the road for a three-game swing this week, facing the Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks and Charlotte Bobcats. They look to repeat their club-record road success of last year, and get their offense back to health.
"A couple of more games like this, if we don't start hitting some 3s, I might step out and shoot some," Howard said.
Brian Schmitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his Magicblog at orlandosentinel.com.
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