Damian Lillard Is Out: No Problem for Portland

by | Mar 27, 2021 | Eastern Conference, Magic, NBA, Southeast | 0 comments

Orlando, which traded its best three players (Nikola Vucuvic, Aaron Gordon, and Evan Fournier) prior to Thursday’s trade deadline, put up a spirited fight, but the Blazers found a way to win, even with Damian Lillard out.

Overview

The Magic are undergoing a youth movement now, after trading Gordon, Fournier, and Vucevic. Many young guys will get more minutes. But on Friday night, the Magic weren’t able to play any of their new additions: RJ Hampton, Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr., or Gary Harris. On the other hand, Portland was able to play their new acquisition, Norman Powell, who had 22 points to beat the Magic. Powell, who already feels at home, should form a great trio alongside Lillard and McCollum in Portland.

Despite being shorthanded, Orlando did have some important players step up, including Chuma Okeke, who had a career-high 22 points. Khem Birch also stepped up, scoring a double-double (14 points and 15 rebounds).

Chuma Okeke Has a Career Night

Chuma Okeke, the former 16th overall pick from the 2019 draft, had a big night against Portland. Okeke is averaging 5.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 1.9 APG, across 22.2 MPG. He’s also shooting 41.5% from the field which isn’t great, but he is shooting 40.5% from deep on 2.6 attempts per game. Okeke has the potential to be a very good 3&D wing and he showed it on Friday night. The 23-year-old had 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists, while shooting 9-for-15 from the field and 4-for-6 from behind the arc. This was by far his best NBA performance, putting up a career-high in points and being ultra-efficient while doing so.

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