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Blazers Best Magic


The Portland Trail Blazers are so used to playing unselfishly that it's rare for any one of them to really light it up. Damon Stoudamire just couldn't help himself on this night.

"It felt good to come out and hit shots and continue it throughout the game. My teammates were looking for me," Stoudamire said after scoring a season-high 30 points to help the Trail Blazers win their 10th straight game with a 111-92 rout of the Orlando Magic on Thursday night.

Stoudamire was 13-of-18 from the field, and his point total was the most by a Blazer this season. Portland had been the only team in the league without a 30-point scorer. Steve Smith had the previous high of 27 against the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 22.

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  • "I think everybody knows what I'm capable of," said Stoudamire, the 1996 Rookie of the Year with Toronto. "But for the betterment of the team, we have all sacrificed a lot."

    Ten different Blazers have scored at least 20 in a game for the Blazers, and Thursday night even Joe Kleine got his first points since November.

    "You're going to get nights like this. Tonight it was my night," Stoudamire said. "The next night it will be somebody else."

    Portland, which shot 56 percent, has won 15 straight at home and is a half-game ahead of the Lakers for the best record in the NBA.

    Darrell Armstrong and Chucky Atkins each had 16 points and Michael Doleac had 14 for the Magic, who were coming off a 36-point loss at Seattle on Tuesday night.

    "We didn't defend well throughout the game, but in the first half we made them take 10 tough shots and they still shot 55 percent," said Magic coach Doc Rivers. "It's tough trun when the opponent makes shots."

    The Blazers played one of their best offensive games recently, shooting 56 percent. Orlando stayed in it by hitting its outside shots, but a series of breakdowns in the third quarter was all the room Portland needed.

    A jumper by Magic center John Amaechi cut the lead to 54-47 early in the third, but the Blazers went on an 11-0 run. Arvydas Sabonis passed behind his back to Stoudamire for an easy layup, and then after a flat-footed block of Doleac, Sabonis dropped in a layup for a 67-49 lead with 4:05 left in the period.

    Orlando cut it to 13 several times in the fourth, but got no closer in falling to 1 1/2 games behind Detroit and Milwaukee for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

    Orlando lost its third straight but still is 9-5 since Jan. 20.

    The Magic dropped to 5-3 since getting Ron Mercer in a trade with Denver on Feb. 1, but Mercer is averaging just 11.6 points in seven games with Orlando and is shooting 36 percent. He had nine points on 4-of-15 shooting Thursday night.

    "They played good defense, but we missed good shots we should've made," Mercer said. "We didn't play like we were capable of playing."

    After missing a breakaway layup to start the game, Stoudamire hit seven of his next eight shots, including three jumpers to beat the clock. The last one came after Smith found him in the corner for a 3-pointer as time ran out to give the Blazers a 51-41 halftime lead.

    "We don't need guys to go out and take 20, 30 shots," Smith said. "We don't need guys to go out and score 30, but then again, if we do see a guy getting hot, there is no animosity on this team. Everybody will go to him."

    In their previous meeting, an 81-79 Portland win on Nov. 17, the Magic had 25 offensive rebounds, the most allowed by the Blazers this season. The trend continued Thursday, as Ben Wallace had four by himself in the first quarter.

    The Blazers countered with crisp ball movement, and their waiting for the right shot paid off. Portland's field goal percentage was its highest since it shot 56 percent in a 105-95 win at San Antonio on Jan. 19.

    Notes

  • If Portland beats the Utah Jazz on Sunday, it will tie the Blazers' franchise record of 11 straight wins set in 1996-97.
  • The Magic made a trade before Thursday's 6 p.m. EST deadline, acquiring third-year guard Anthony Johnson for a conditional second-round draft choice. Orlando also placed guard-forward Johnny Taylor on the injured list with a lower back strain.
  • Doleac had his number 51 retired at Portland's Central Catholic High School on Wednesda.

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