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Reply To: NBA • Saturday Service Plays • 3/12/16

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Preview: Orlando At Portland

When: 10:30 PM ET, Saturday, March 12, 2016
Where: Moda Center at the Rose Quarter, Portland, Oregon

The Orlando Magic are in must-win mode and know they have little margin for error as they complete a four-game road trip with a contest against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday. Orlando has remained within sight of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot despite a recent slump and resides 4 1/2 games behind the eighth-place Detroit Pistons.

The Magic halted a three-game slide with a 107-100 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday and emerging power forward Aaron Gordon insists his club can claim that final postseason berth. “We want it, everybody in this locker room wants it,” Gordon said after the victory. “A couple of games here and there and we can be right back in it. We just have to keep focused. We need to make sure we’re doing the right things to make that push.” Portland is in sixth place in the Western Conference but has suddenly lost four of its last five games after being trounced 128-112 by the Golden State Warriors on Friday. “We’ll check out what we can do better on the film and what we did well and just bounce back against Orlando,” forward Meyers Leonard said afterward. “That’s the main thing right now, Orlando. This game is over with; Orlando is huge for us (Saturday) night.”

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, FSN Florida (Orlando), KGW (Portland)

ABOUT THE MAGIC (28-36): Gordon had 20 points and 11 rebounds in the victory over the Kings and has produced three double-doubles over the past five games. Center Nikola Vucevic — the team’s leading scorer (17.8) and rebounder (9.0) — has missed the last three games with a groin injury and Gordon has stepped up with two 20-point outings during the stretch. Another strong contributor during Vucevic’s absence has been veteran power forward Jason Smith, who matched a season best with 16 points against the Kings and is averaging 13 points during the past three games.

ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (34-32): Portland handed Golden State a season-worst 32-point loss last month and Friday’s game was a complete turnaround as the Warriors scored an NBA-high 81 first-half points while exposing the Trail Blazers’ defense. “There’s probably (a team) that had 81 in a whole game,” point guard Damian Lillard said after the drubbing. “Especially against a team like them, you let them score 81 points in one half and they get to feeling good about themselves, it’s going to be that much harder to stop them in the second.” Portland, which has won five of its last six home matchups with Orlando, has allowed an average of 118.6 points during its five-game slump.


1. The Magic recorded 11 steals while notching a 102-94 home win over the Trail Blazers on Dec. 18.

2. Lillard had just 17 points of 5-of-19 shooting against Golden State after averaging 32.1 points during the previous 15 games.

3. Orlando PG Elfrid Payton (elbow) missed the Sacramento game and he and Vucevic are both questionable for Saturday’s game.

PREDICTION: Trail Blazers 113, Magic 107