It’s the final game for either team before this weekend’s break, and the Magic couldn’t have it come sooner. They have six players either sick or injured and could be without Jameer Nelson on Wednesday, who may join fellow starters Grant Hill (knee) and Tony Battie (thumb) on the sidelines.
Nelson is likely to miss the game because of the flu. Hedo Turkoglu is battling a mysterious illness that hasn’t forced him to miss any games but causes him to fatigue easily, while Trevor Ariza (knee) and Keyon Dooling (thumb) have both been out.
“Somehow we’ve got to fight through it and get through it,” said Turkoglu, who has scored only eight points on 3-for-17 shooting in his last two games. “Even If I don’t feel good, I still go out there and try to play. It’s not going to stop me.”
Dooling might return for this game, which could be a boost for Orlando (26-26) as it’s lost four of its past five games and faces a tough stretch after the break. The Magic visit New York and Detroit on back-to-back nights after the break then return home to face the Pistons again and Houston.
After that, they have a four-game road trip against Chicago, Denver, San Antonio and Dallas, perhaps the toughest stretch the team will face all season.
“Obviously we need to get healthy, number one, and we need to go into every game with a sense of urgency,” Magic coach Brian Hill said.
Orlando’s only win in its last five games came against San Antonio when All-Star Dwight Howard leaped high to slam dunk the winning points with 0.2 seconds remaining in a 106-104 victory on Friday. But the Magic weren’t able to follow that up, getting outscored by 12 points in the fourth quarter of a 93-78 loss to New Jersey on Saturday.
Howard had 25 points on 11-for-15 shooting and has shot 84.6 percent (44-for-52) in his last four games. He had 18 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks in a 91-89 win over Portland on Dec. 1.
Grant Hill scored the winning basket with 1.5 seconds left to give the Magic its third victory in the last four meetings with Portland. Before that, the Trail Blazers had won 11 straight in the series.
Portland also had won six straight in Orlando before the Magic won 104-89 on Nov. 25, 2005, in the teams’ last meeting at Amway Arena.
The Blazers (22-31) had opened a four-game road trip with consecutive wins over Charlotte and Washington before falling flat against Miami on Tuesday, scoring just 15 fourth-quarter points in a 104-85 loss. Portland committed 17 turnovers, two days after turning the ball over 20 times in its 94-73 win over the Wizards.
“We can’t win many games with 15 to 20 turnovers,” Portland coach Nate McMillan said. “Last game we had 20 turnovers, tonight we had 17. You’re spotting these guys, who are champions, 27 points when you do that.”
Portland has lost seven of its past 10 road games. After the All-Star break, the Blazers play only two of their next eight away from home.