PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Trail Blazers are one of the NBA's most pleasant surprises this season, entering Tuesday with a 26-8 record.
Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn couldn't be happier for the Trail Blazers' coach, Terry Stotts.
Stotts' was Vaughn's coach when Vaughn spent the 2003-04 season with the Atlanta Hawks.
Vaughn's Magic will face Stotts' Trail Blazers on Wednesday night at Moda Center in their third meeting as head coaches. Orlando and Portland split their two games last season.
Stotts had amassed an overall 115-168 record as the coach of the Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks before the Blazers hired him prior to last season.
Vaughn feels gratified to see the Blazers flourish in their second season under Stotts.
"He deserves it," Vaughn said. "We have a good relationship, whether it was when I had my first son and him calling me and saying, 'Congratulations,' or whether it was when I accepted the job with Orlando, getting a call from him and saying, 'Congratulations.'
"So, he's a man that I have [an] extreme amount of respect for. I pull for him, and it's because he's been good to me for a lot along the way."
During the offseason, the name of the Blazers' home arena was changed from the "Rose Garden" to "Moda Center." Although the name is different, the arena remains one of the toughest venues for visiting teams.
The Blazers have a 13-4 home record this season and one of the NBA's most vocal fan bases.
"I think places like Oklahoma City and Golden State have great crowds," Magic shooting guard Arron Afflalo said. "This is definitely one of them, for sure."
Monday night's 101-81 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers brought a first for the Magic this season and a first for the team's prized rookie guard, Victor Oladipo.
Oladipo didn't play at all in the game's first quarter — the first time in the 34 games of his pro career that he hasn't played in the first period of the game.
The Magic's troubles against the Clippers started early. Los Angeles jumped out to a 20-3 lead and ended the first quarter leading 36-18.
Vaughn kept his starting backcourt of point guard Jameer Nelson and Afflalo in for all 12 minutes.
Vaughn said his rationale for not playing Oladipo in the opening 12 minutes was based on his team's playing rotation.
"We've been putting him in the second unit so he can lead the second unit," Vaughn said. "We were down early. I let Jameer continue to run the ballclub early. Nothing more. Nothing less."
Oladipo finished the game with 22 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two turnovers.
He accumulated a large portion of those stats as he played the entire fourth quarter, when the game was completely out of reach. In the final quarter, he scored seven points, grabbed five boards, dished three assists and committed both of his turnovers.
The fourth quarter was Orlando's only bright spot. The Magic outscored the Clippers 26-16.
New tickets available
Single-game tickets for Magic home games from Feb. 21 through the end of the season will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday, team officials announced.
Tickets can be purchased at Amway Center's box office on Church St., at all Ticketmaster outlets, on OrlandoMagic.com or by calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/magicblog and follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun