Matthews rediscovers magic touch as Blazers beat Orlando

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers writer

Published:

Updated: January 8, 2014, 11:27 PM

 

PORTLAND -- Wesley Matthews has been in a bit of a shooting slump the last five games.

He finally snapped out of it in the fourth quarter Wednesday to help the Blazers rally for a 110-94 win over Orlando at the Moda Center.

“I just had to get back to being angry,” Matthews said. “Like (LaMarcus Aldridge) said after the Brooklyn game, I was at a new level of angry. Not to say that I toned it down, but over the course of the season, I might have lost a little bit of it.”

The Blazers did not have a lot going for three quarters. They found themselves down 75-71 to a lowly Magic team riding a four-game losing streak.

Matthews had gone 1 of 12 from 3-point range in the Blazers’ previous two games, both losses.

In the fourth quarter, Matthews provided a spark by going to work in the post, fighting for rebounds and most importantly, scoring baskets.

Matthews scored 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter to help ignite the Blazers offense.

Another burst of energy came from Thomas Robinson who, up until the last two games, had his spot taken in the rotation by Meyers Leonard.

Robinson played in the fourth quarter for the second night in arow, helping the spark the Blazers in the fourth. Stotts cited match-ups for playing Robinson in the last two games.

While his contribution Tuesday night did not help win the game in Sacramento, his inclusion on Wednesday saw the game’s energy change. Robinson made a couple of baskets — something Portland has desperately lacked off the bench, aside from Mo Williams, in recent games.

“Tonight we didn’t have that second half boost that we always get in the third quarter, that run that we make,” said Robinson. “So, I came in the game and hopefully gamble on some plays to get something for my team to boost them and get energy and it went my way tonight.”

Robinson finished with six points and three rebounds in 11 minutes.

As the Blazers continue to evolve, so, apparently, is Stotts’ rotation. Stotts said that he sees himself making rotation decisions on a game-to-game basis based on the versatility of his team.

One night after playing Will Barton over Dorell Wright, Stotts went with C.J. McCollum for his rookie debut, as he scored four points in 15 minutes. Stotts mentioned the value of Wright after the game and it appears that this spot in the rotation will also be on a game-to-game basis.

Aldridge finished with 36 points and nine rebounds while Nicolas Batum recorded a triple-double of 14 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists as he continues to play through a fractured finger on his left hand.

Batum said after the game that he’s gotten more comfortable with the splint on his left middle finger.

The Blazers defended well in the second half after Aldridge told team at halftime that they are “a really good” team and they can’t drop a third in a row.

“We didn’t play with that sense of urgency and I thought in the second half guys did that,” he said.

Notes

• The Blazers started out hot in the first quarter but after their quick 9-2 start to the game, the Magic clawed back. LaMarcus Aldridge was the only Blazer who had any kind of rhythm, scoring 21 points and grabbing six rebounds to lead the Blazers.

• At the 3:10 mark of the 1st quarter, rookie C.J. McCollum made his NBA debut. Terry Stotts said before the game that the ninth wing spot in the rotation was "fluid" and after going with Will Barton last night, he went with McCollum tonight. McCollum scored two points and had a rebound in seven minutes.