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On Sunday, Portland Trail Blazers beat Orlando Magic 122-119. Nassir Little hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 35.2 seconds remaining for the victory.
Damian Lillard scored 41 points and Jerami Grant added 20 to help the Blazers snap their three-game losing streak. With this win, Portland is now one game behind Utah and New Orleans for a Western Conference play-in tournament spot - one game behind Utah and New Orleans.
With a string of losses, an office shakeup and trade rumors swirling around them, the Portland Trail Blazers needed a victory on Sunday afternoon. Entering the game with an 8-11 record and four games left on their current road swing, victory was essential for them to keep their season alive.
Thankfully for them, Damian Lillard delivered an incredible performance to break that streak. The superstar guard scored 71 points - tied for eighth most in NBA history - while setting a new franchise record with 13 3-pointers.
He made the most of his time in the first half, scoring 41 of his 71 points during that span. This put him one step ahead of Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain (five times) and Kobe Bryant for most first-half points scored by a Trail Blazers player in team history.
In the opening half, Portland shot 50 percent from the field and connected on 23 of 37 3-point attempts while Orlando made just 37.5 percent and made 7 of 26 shots from behind the arc. However, due to their defensive play around the perimeter, they were able to slow down Orlando and create more open looks in the paint for themselves.
As the second quarter progressed, the Blazers started to show cracks in their defense. They missed open shots and turned over more than Orlando did, yet still managed to come out on top 51-46 thanks to Nassir Little's great ball movement and some timely 3-pointers from Jerami Grant.
With 2:07 left, Dame made two free throws to give the Blazers a 68-65 advantage. However, Orlando came back strong and cut its deficit to one point several times before reaching three again with 3:08 remaining - when Banchero hit a layup to extend its lead back up to 69-67 for Orlando.
That's when the Blazers took control of the game with a 12-5 run that featured Matisse Thybulle's 3-pointer and Nassir Little's dunk. These runs gave them control of the game, and ultimately led them to victory.
Nassir Little hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 35.2 seconds remaining as the Trail Blazers snapped their three-game losing streak and earned themselves a win against Orlando Magic. Damian Lillard scored 41 points while Jerami Grant added 20 for Portland (32-20), who moved one game behind Utah and New Orleans for a spot in the Western Conference play-in tournament.
Lauri Markkanen spearheaded Utah's late fourth-quarter comeback, scoring 43 points and collecting 10 rebounds. Walker Kessler added 18 points and seven rebounds in his first career start, Kelly Olynyk contributed 12 points from the bench, and Kris Dunn finished with 11 for Utah.
Joel Embiid led the Philadelphia 76ers in scoring with 27 points and 19 rebounds despite missing six shots in the opening quarter. Philadelphia took a 16-point lead at halftime, but Memphis cut it to 16 with Tobias Harris' trey with 39 seconds remaining in regulation.
In the third quarter, Indiana made eight threes. Hield and Turner each hit two, while Haliburton added another long shot for good measure.
Boston responded with some impressive shooting, as Jayson Tatum and Royce Brogdon both hit 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. After Indiana's Bennedict Mathurin tied the game at 111-102 with a dunk and layup, Smart caught a rebound off Tatum's miss shot and Tatum then drilled a putback basket for an impressive 116-114 advantage with 5:48 remaining in regulation time.
In overtime, Brogdon hit a go-ahead floater with 2:02 left to give Boston a 125-114 lead. But Turner hit another three-pointer to give Indiana the lead back. Nesmith had one final opportunity at a three from left wing with 10.4 seconds remaining but it missed and Boston secured their offensive rebound.
With 1:41 remaining, the Magic had a chance to tie it up after Brown drew a foul on Hield. But Carlisle overturned Brown's stepback three and forced Cleveland into fouling Jaylen Brown who made both free throws. Mitchell twice misfired on his next two possessions as Denver pulled away with an impressive victory amid playoff-level intensity.
Orlando was without five of their regular rotation players, yet still managed to secure a victory in their 12th game of the season. Orlando outscored Portland 41-27 in the second quarter and held them to just 29.8% shooting for the half.
Fultz was a major factor in the Magic's first-half success, scoring 12 points on 5 of 11 shooting and pulling down eight rebounds. Additionally, he added two assists, two steals, and a block over 30 minutes of play.
In the first half, Orlando led by as many as 18 points and Portland failed to hit a field goal for 6:32 of that period. That allowed Magic to go on an incredible 14-3 run in the second quarter which increased their lead to 52-36.
From there on out, Fultz had a remarkable first-half performance. He made 4 of 10 field goal attempts - including two threes - as the Magic raced ahead 52-39 at halftime.
Fultz finished with 15 points, four rebounds and five assists in 36 minutes of action. With this start streak of 19 consecutive games under his belt, head coach Jamahl Mosley declared Fultz the best point guard in the league at this stage of his development.
He has been an integral part of the Magic's success this month, and he appears to be finding his more reliable shooting stroke on offense. Over his last four games, he averaged 16.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.8 assists.
Fultz has recently begun to showcase his defensive potential. His -12.5 net rating in 126 minutes with Suggs is the lowest of his career, showing that they can work together to enhance Orlando's defense.
No one knows if Fultz and Suggs will form an incredible bond, but their presence shows the Magic have two reliable young backups for years to come.
Last two seasons have been plagued with injuries for this Orlando Magic franchise. Everyone fears for the worst; a long-term absence that stalls both the team and individual players.
On Friday night, Jalen Suggs suffered an injury during the opening quarter of a preseason game against Dallas Mavericks. He clutched his knee after hyperextending it while moving in for setting screens and was later diagnosed with a knee capsule sprain and bone bruise; as such, the Magic announced that Suggs would undergo further testing after Saturday morning practice.
Suggs has been an integral part of the Magic's defense, an energetic and disruptive presence on court. He's learning his role as a role player offensively and his shot is beginning to come around a bit.
As Suggs continues to develop into the role, more playing time may be forthcoming if he makes a full recovery from his ankle surgery. If so, Suggs could become an invaluable member of Orlando Magic's rotation next season.
Suggs has been on a roll, scoring 11.3 points and dishing out 2.4 assists per game over his previous eight games. In five of those contests, Suggs has reached double figures in scoring and is shooting above 50% on drives to the basket.
It's encouraging that Suggs has continued to improve and find his footing, especially after an injury-plagued rookie season that left him with ankle and thumb issues. Suggs' progress shows even a young player like him can still have an exciting future if they take the right approach.
He's also proving to be a valuable asset on the defensive end when he plays an intelligent and consistent brand of basketball. As Lowe noted in a recent article, Orlando Magic's defense has actually improved with Suggs on the floor this year than it did without him.
Suggs will be available for Sunday's matchup against the Blazers, as Gary Harris (hip) has been ruled out due to a strained left calf. If healthy, Suggs could make his first start since January 14.