PORTLAND, Ore. — The door to the visitors' locker room inside the Rose Garden remained closed long after the Portland Trail Blazers throttled the Orlando Magic 97-83 Thursday night.
So much needed to be said.
Stan Van Gundy present — spoke about what had just occurred, how the team started its most difficult road trip so far this season without any energy. More people than usual talked after a loss. Their message was blunt.
"They threw everything they had at us, and we folded," center Dwight Howard said later, after the locker room opened.
"We shouldn't fold. Nothing should break us and it did. Until everybody steps up on the team and mans up, then teams are going to throw their best punch at us and we're going to fold."
The Magic looked awful from the middle of the second quarter onward. They led 38-26 midway through the period, and then were outscored 71-45 the rest of the way.
The Trail Blazers threw a punch, all right, and the Magic responded meekly.
Orlando allowed too many uncontested layups, usually because of poor defensive rotations.
The offense looked even worse. The ball movement slowed to a crawl, and the team didn't score a single fastbreak point.
Van Gundy predicted that this West Coast road trip and the difficult games that follow through Christmas will show just how good the Magic are.
They've started poorly.
The Magic have lost their last three games, and they have an even more difficult task ahead of them Friday night, when they face the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena, one of the toughest venues in the NBA.
On Thursday, at least, they received a monster game from Howard.
The all-star center scored a season-high 39 points on 13-of-20 shooting from the field and 13-of-18 shooting from the foul line.
Guard J.J. Redick scored 10 points off the bench.
But aside from Howard and Redick, the rest of the Magic's players shot 29.5 percent from the floor.
"We're not playing with any energy offensively, and we had one thing we could do offensively tonight: Throw Dwight the ball," Van Gundy said.
Point guard Jameer Nelson played for the first time since he came down with a stomach virus a week ago, and he struggled against his taller and stronger Portland counterpart, Andre Miller.
Miller finished with a team-high 22 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.
Dwight Howard: The Magic 'folded' in their 97-83 loss to the Trail Blazers
Howard questions team's toughness after convincing loss
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