PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)—Improved shooting is making all the difference for the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Blazers, who have won two straight after a six-game losing streak, shot 54 percent in a 113-108 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night. It was their second straight game over 50 percent and it resulted in their highest-scoring total of the season.
Portland entered the game last in the league in 3-point shooting percentage at just 31 percent.
“Our shooting from the perimeter and our free throw shooting were great,” coach Nate McMillan said. “I thought the success we had (with 3-pointers) had a lot to do with ball movement and passing the ball with rhythm.”
Hedo Turkoglu had 27 points for the Magic, who were missing the suspended Steve Francis. The Orlando Sentinel and Florida Today, both citing anonymous sources, said the star guard wouldn’t re-enter Wednesday night’s loss in Seattle after Turkoglu fouled out.
“I thought our guys played outstanding,” Orlando coach Brian Hill said. “We got contributions from everyone out there tonight. I’m very pleased with the way we played.”
Portland led the entire fourth quarter, but Orlando stayed close behind strong post play from Howard and Turkoglu. The Magic scored 52 points in the paint, while the Blazers had 34.
The Magic cut the lead to two on Howard’s follow shot with 1:50 left, but Dixon countered with a fadeaway 17-footer for Portland and then a 3-pointer from the corner to put away the game.
Dixon shot 10-of-13 from the field. Steve Blake had 17 points and six assists for the Blazers. Led by Telfair, the Blazers got 46 points from their reserves.
Telfair was in his third game back after sitting out with a hand injury. His first two games were shaky, and Blake, who replaced Telfair in his absence, has remained the starting point guard.
“Tonight getting out there on the floor, I felt more comfortable,” Telfair said. “The shots were just falling for me. It felt good to get in a rhythm.”
The Magic had all five starters in double figures, but were without forward Grant Hill, who has missed five of the last six games with a strained groin.
Francis, who is second on the team with 16.6 points per game, was replaced in the lineup by DeShawn Stevenson, who had 13 points but was just 4-of-11 from the field. Rookie Travis Diener added 11 points.
Zach Randolph scored 14 of his 19 points in the first half for the Blazers. He started off 6-of-6 from the field but missed 10 of his next 12 shots.
The Blazers made 6-of-6 3-pointers in the first half and led 52-45 after Telfair hit back-to-back 3s, but Orlando went on a 10-3 run to tie the game at 55.
Portland took a 94-88 lead in the fourth after Telfair made his fifth 3-pointer and Ruben Patterson converted a fast-break dunk. Telfair hit back-to-back jumpers to make it 100-94 with 4:13 to go.
The short-handed Magic didn’t have enough down the stretch. Three key turnovers in the final 2:20 ended their chances.
“You obviously want to win, but we did all we could out there tonight,” Nelson said.
Orlando is 4-12 on the road this season. … Dixon has scored in double digits in 14 straight games. … The game was delayed for 7 minutes in the second quarter while referees enlisted the help of Orlando big men Tony Battie and Turkoglu to fix a crooked rim. Battie hung on the rim while Turkoglu tugged on his hips.