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Blazers Mash Magic, Keep Championship Hopes Alive

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Portland Trail Blazers head off to opener after series of close matches NBA Summer League On Thursday, they thrashed the Orlando Magic 88-71 in Las Vegas, right on schedule. The win takes the team to 3-1 in the summer league and will keep them alive for the weekend’s four-team postseason, aiming to defend last year’s title.

All three 2023 Lotto picks between Portland’s Scoot Henderson and Orlando’s Anthony Black and Jett Howard were unable to compete. But thanks to the efforts of summer sensation Michael DeVoe, the Blazers hardly disappoint. He started as point guard in place of Henderson for three consecutive games (after taking the DNP in the season opener). Georgia Tech The Stars scored 18 points to take the lead.

Portland was a little late, but finished the first half with a 36-7 run from 4 minutes and 21 seconds into the first quarter. The Magic were held to just 19 points in the first 20 minutes of the game. Orlando’s attack improved a bit in the second half, but a 26-point deficit at halftime proved too much to overcome.

While DeVoe once again stole the show with his ability to generate offense, many other Blazers put in solid performances as well. Jabari Walker has a workmanlike double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds and looks set to be a bona fide rotation member next season. Duop Reese continued his fruitful run as a backup center, tallying 12 points, five rebounds and three steals and looking to make it into the team’s training camp.

Rookie Chris Murray’s eventful summer continues, as he was unable to carry the hot shooting touches he showed against the Charlotte Hornets earlier this week into Thursday’s contest. He showed his defensive prowess with two steals, but went just 1-7 across the arc.

Fellow rookie Ryan Rupert continued to establish himself as a tenacious defender, posting a team-high 31 minutes and not fouling once. On the offensive side, he has 1 win, 7 losses, and 3 turnovers from field goals, and is still developing. He also led the team with 12 rebounds.

Shadon Sharpe was arguably the most talented player on the floor and scored another highlight dunk, but his playing time was short as the team tried to involve more of the less established players. Stayed 12 minutes.

Finally, Ibu Bhaji gave his best performance to date. As Summer League progresses, the big man is regaining his confidence and shaking off the rust of a lost season. It paid off against a decidedly smaller Magic roster, scoring six points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 22 minutes.

box score

The Blazers are now awaiting the results of tomorrow’s game to determine whether they will participate in the Summer League playoffs. The top four teams from the original four-game schedule will advance to the semi-finals on Sunday, with the championship match scheduled for Monday night. Tiebreaks are determined by point difference.

Either way, Portland will play at least one more game over the weekend, with opponents and times to be announced after the playoff field is set.

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