-------Damian Lillard scored 17 of his game-high 33 points in the fourth quarter as the Portland Trail Blazers overcome an 11-point deficit to down the Orlando Magic 112-103 on Thursday night.
It only took one game for the Blazers new center, Yusuf Nurkic to get into the starting lineup. After playing just 21 minutes in his Blazers debut at Utah before the All Star break, Nurkic got his first start Thursday night. In 34 minutes against Magic, Nurkic scored 12 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, and played some good defense against Nikola Vucevic, who scored 30 points against the Blazers at the Moda Center on January 13th in the Magic's 115-109 win.
While Vucevic played well in his first start, Damian Lillard was the star. Lillard scored 17 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter during a Blazers 32-12 run that finished off the Magic. After Orlando took a 91-80 lead on a Terrence Ross three with 9:07 remaining, the Blazers erupted. The Magic had no answer for Lillard or the rest of the Blazers attack down the stretch.
The Blazers did show a new wrinkle in the game tonight. With Lillard in early foul trouble, Blazers Head Coach, Terry Stotts turned to Shabazz Napier, who responded with 10 points and 7 rebounds. The Blazers used a three-guard lineup featuring Napier, Lillard, and CJ McCollum in the third quarter which helped cut a 13-point deficit into a 71-68 Magic lead. McCollum finished the night with 22 points.
One problem the Trailblazers must correct is their lack of ball security. The Blazers committed 20 turnovers on the night which led to 27 points for the Magic.
Portland (24-33) will now head to Toronto for a game against the Raptors on Sunday afternoon. At the end of the night, the Blazers were 1.5 games behind the Denver Nuggets for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.