The Orlando Magic pulled off one of the most amazing feats of the NBA season when it rallied from 24 points down to beat Miami last week...
ORLANDO, Fla. — The Orlando Magic pulled off one of the most amazing feats of the NBA season when it rallied from 24 points down to beat Miami last week.
But Monday night, winning without its biggest star proved to be little too much opposite a team that’s fighting for its playoff life down the stretch.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 24 points, Andre Miller added 15 and the Portland Trail Blazers held on to beat the Magic, which was without the suspended Dwight Howard, 89-85 on Monday night.
Portland won its third straight, and 10th in 13 games. The Blazers also swept the two-game season series with Orlando.
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Marcus Camby was held scoreless, but had 10 rebounds to help the Blazers fend off a late rally by the Magic.
Orlando lost its second consecutive game and dropped to 1-2 this season without Howard, who sat out while serving a one-game suspension after picking up his 16th technical foul Friday.
“It’s tough because we didn’t know who they were going to start,” said Aldridge, whose team moved within a half-game in the win column of idle Denver for the fifth spot in the Western Conference. “We had to wait for game time to find out … They’re better with him, but they’re still good without him. They have a bunch of shooters. … It wasn’t no easy game at all.”
Before the game, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy had harsh words for commissioner David Stern.
Van Gundy quoted an Elias Sports Bureau statistic Monday that notes Howard has been fouled 593 times this season without any of those calls being labeled flagrant.
Asked if the Magic had made a case to the league office about whether they feel Howard has been excessively fouled, Van Gundy said he thinks outside input doesn’t carry much weight at the league office.
“This is the system. David Stern and his minions like it,” Van Gundy said. “So that’s the system you have … I certainly can’t have an opinion because David Stern, like a lot of leaders we’ve seen in this world lately, don’t really tolerate other people’s opinion or free speech or anything. So I’m not really allowed to have an opinion. So it’s up to him.
“He decides and he likes the system he has.”
• Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points, Amare Stoudemire had 31, and the New York Knicks showed how dangerous they can be when their superstars are rolling, beating the Utah Jazz 131-109.
Anthony and Stoudemire combined to make 24 of 31 shots, then were on the bench for the entire final period. Stoudemire departed long before the third even ended, shooting 12 of 15 in just 24 minutes, and Anthony soon joined him after his first 30-point game with the Knicks.
• Derrick Rose scored 24 points, and the Chicago Bulls beat visiting New Orleans 85-77 with Hornets star Chris Paul sidelined by a concussion.
The four-time All-Star watched from the sideline after colliding with Cleveland’s Ramon Sessions in Sunday’s win and remains day to day. Without him, the Hornets put up a fight against the Central division leaders but were shut out over the final 3:15.
• Blake Griffin had 17 points and 15 rebounds and the Los Angeles Clippers had more offensive options than Charlotte in a 92-87 victory over the host Bobcats that matched teams missing their leading scorers.
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro is “optimistic” top scorer Eric Gordon will return this season after he aggravated a right wrist injury over the weekend that will keep him out indefinitely.
Charlotte fell to 1-5 since trading Gerald Wallace and lost their second straight since Stephen Jackson was sidelined with a strained hamstring.
• Mike Conley and Tony Allen each scored 20 points, and Marc Gasol had 18 as the Memphis Grizzlies withstood a second-half rally and defeated the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder 107-101.
Zach Randolph added 17 points for Memphis, including four free throws in the closing seconds, as the Grizzlies maintained their hold on the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference.
• Dirk Nowitzki overcame foul trouble to score 25 points in 27 minutes, helping Dallas outlast host Minnesota 108-105.
Nowitzki picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter, and Brian Cardinal stepped in to score a season-high 12 points for the Mavericks in their 19th win in 21 games.
Kevin Love had 23 points and 17 rebounds for Minnesota. He posted his 51st double-double in a row, which is tied with Moses Malone in 1978-79 for the longest streak since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976.