Trail Blazers step up their game but not enough to pull out win at Orlando Magic

Scoot Henderson

Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz, left, looks to pass the ball as he is pressured by Portland Trail Blazers guard Scoot Henderson (00) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 1, 2024, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) APAP

The Portland Trail Blazers, in the middle of a tough seven-game trip that included a 60-point loss Friday night at the Miami Heat, had a chance to pull out a victory Monday at the Orlando Magic to avoid setting their longest losing streak of the season.

That chance ended when center Deandre Ayton missed a 12-foot-jumper at the final buzzer resulting in a 104-103 loss.

The Blazers, now 0-4 on this trip, delivered their best performance since they last played at the Moda Center.

The Blazers trailed by as much as 15 in the third quarter before methodically working their way back to taking a 91-90 lead with 4:58 to go in the game.

The Magic responded, however, with a 12-2 run to go up 102-93 with 2:06 remaining. Somehow, the Blazers found the resolve to answer again. When Dalano Banton hit a three-pointer with 1:26 on the clock, the Blazers trailed just 102-99. Moments later, Ayton scored inside in transition to make the score 104-103, Magic with 36 seconds remaining.

Orlando forward Paolo Banchero missed a three from the left side and the Blazers got the rebound to set up Ayton’s final shot attempt that fell short.

Ayton scored 20 total points with 12 rebounds on the night. Banton came off the bench to lead the team with 26 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Scoot Henderson had one of his better games in recent weeks, producing 13 points and nine assists with eight rebounds.

The Blazers, who had been turning the ball over at an alarming rate on this trip (57 in three games) committed just nine against the Magic.

Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said his team’s offense did well maneuvering against the Magic’s superior size. Orlando’s defensive rating of 110.4 ranks second in the NBA.

“That’s an elite defense,” Billups told reporters. “Their size really bothered us at the rim. When we tried to get layups, we had to double pump. We’ve got to come with these crazy shots. We moved the ball. We kind of didn’t let them set their defense up.”

Deandre Ayton

Portland Trail Blazers center Deandre Ayton (2) makes a shot over Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner (22) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 1, 2024, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) APAP

The Blazers shot 44.4% from the floor and hit 35.5% of their three-point attempts. But according to Billups, the Blazers became stagnant in the third quarter when they fell behind by 15.

“But those defenses make you do that sometimes,” he said.

To the Blazers’ credit, they found a way to respond in the fourth quarter.

“Our offensive energy picked up and it gave us some confidence,” Billups said. “Some guys stepped up and made some big shots for us. Some big plays. And, it always just comes down to little things.”

Franz Wagner led the Magic with 20 points. Wendell Carter Jr. scored 17 with 15 coming in the third quarter.


The Blazers (19-56) lost their 10th consecutive game, their longest losing streak this season. The Magic (44-31), fifth in the Eastern Conference, moved to within a half-game of the fourth-place New York Knicks (44-30).


The Blazers’ 10-game losing streak has them knocking on the respective doors of the Charlotte Hornets and San Antonio Spurs, tied for the third-worst record in the NBA. The Blazers, who have the fifth-worst record in the NBA, lead the Hornets (18-57) and the Spurs (18-57) by just one game.

Charlotte lost 104-118 Monday night at home to the Boston Celtics (59-16).

The Hornets host the Blazers Wednesday night.


The Blazers play a 4 p.m. game Wednesday at the Hornets.

-- Aaron Fentress | | @AaronJFentress (Twitter), @AaronJFentress (Instagram), @AaronFentress (Facebook)


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