ORLANDO, Fla. — The Orlando Magic pulled off one of the most amazing feats of the NBA season when it rallied from 24 points down to beat Miami last week.
But Monday night, winning without their biggest star proved to be little too much opposite a team that’s fighting for its playoff life down the stretch.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 24 points, Andre Miller added 15 and the Portland Trail Blazers held on to beat the Magic, who were without the suspended Dwight Howard, 89-85 on Monday night.
Portland won its third straight, and 10th in 13 games. The Blazers also swept the two-game season series with Orlando.
Marcus Camby was held scoreless, but had 10 rebounds to help the Blazers fend off a late rally by the Magic.
Orlando lost its second consecutive game and dropped to 1-2 this season without Howard, who sat out while serving a one-game suspension after picking up his 16th technical foul Friday.
“It’s tough because we didn’t know who they were going to start,” said Aldridge, whose team moved within a half-game in the win column of idle Denver for the fifth spot in the Western Conference. “We had to wait for game time to find out…They’re better with him, but they’re still good without him. They have a bunch of shooters. … It wasn’t no easy game at all.”
Jason Richardson led Orlando with 22 points, followed by 13 apiece from Ryan Anderson and Hedo Turkoglu.
The Magic hit 11 of 22 3-pointers on the night, but were done in by 19 turnovers that led to several easy baskets throughout the game.
Richardson’s 3 tied it at 74-all with 9:34 to play in the game. A 3 by Anderson two possessions later then gave the Magic their first lead since the opening minutes, 77-76.
The pace quickened from there and following a pair of ties and lead changes, the Blazers regained the lead 81-79 on a tip-in by Gerald Wallace with 6:26 left.
The Magic kept it within a basket before Portland’s Wesley Matthews drained a 3-pointer from the corner to push to 88-83. Orlando then lost a basket by Anderson after an official review during a timeout waved it off because of a shot-clock violation. That made the deficit 88-81 with just 2:47 remaining.
The Magic kept punching.
Turkoglu hit another from beyond the arc cut it 89-85 at the 1:21 mark and Portland turned it over on a shot-clock violation of its own with 56.3 seconds to play.
Orlando forced a stop, but the Magic ate up their remaining time looking for an open shooter. They were only able to get up one more field-goal attempt, by Richardson, which hit off the back of the rim.
“We played really hard, gave it our all, but it just didn’t come up at the end,” Richardson said. “We weren’t taking care of the ball. … They just kept reaching in and knocking the ball out of our hands.
“You can’t win the game when you have 18 turnovers.”
Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy thought his team played well overall, but that the turnovers coupled with a lack of production from the point guard spot overall did them in.
Starter Jameer Nelson was just 1 for 7 from the field with two points and five turnovers. Gilbert Arenas had nine points off the bench, but had six giveaways.
“The only guy that had a really bad night was Jameer,” Van Gundy said. “He had a really, really bad night. But I thought we did get good games from multiple people. Again, if we take care of the ball, that’s a very, very winnable game.”
The Blazers opened the second half with a 13-4 run to take a 60-47 advantage with 5:53 left in the third. It grew to as many as 14, at 64-50, before a 14-1 run by the Magic trimmed it to 65-64 at the 1:29 mark. Arenas had eight points during the run, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Portland led 47-43 at halftime, but neither team has particularly impressive offensively in the opening 24 minutes.
Howard’s absence underneath was felt early for the Magic, who missed 10 of their first 15 shots — mostly outside jumpers — and racked up 12 first-half turnovers.
Portland coach Nate McMillan said there were things his team could build on.
“We made plays we need to down the stretch,” McMillan said. “We kind of gave them a little space in the second half and Richardson got hot shooting. … It’s about us. We have to challenge ourselves each night to come out and play hard and play a good game. And we’re going to have to play better to win than we did tonight.”
Howard missed his third game this season, and only his sixth regular-season game in seven NBA seasons (550 of a possible 556 games). … Howard has been fined $50,000 this season for his 16 technical fouls. … Retired LPGA golfer Annika Sorenstam and actor Kevin James were among the announced crowd of 19,001.