Marc Gasol and Andrew Nicholson - Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
The severely shorthanded Magic used only seven players against the Grizzlies, but Memphis was unable to put away the Magic until the final three minutes.
The Orlando Magic, a 14-point underdog against the Memphis Grizzlies before Friday's game, were hoping to compete and make the game respectable, despite only having eight players available. Not only did they accomplish that, they gave the Grizzlies a big scare late in the game, trailing by only three points with under five minutes remaining, before Memphis was able to secure the win, 88-82.
Al Harrington was dressed and available for the first time this season for the Magic, but did not see any action. Veteran Arron Afflalo, along with the young players who were available for game action, for the most part played well to keep the Magic in the game.
Memphis outshot Orlando 45 percent to 42 percent, had a big rebounding advantage of 52-42, and had a big advantage at the free throw line, making 17 free throws compared to just seven for the Magic. If Memphis had been more accurate from the free throw line, it may have been able to put Orlando away sooner than it did, as the Grizzlies were just 17-of-29 at the charity stripe for 59 percent. In the second half alone, Memphis attempted 25 free throws.
Four players scored in double figures for Memphis, led by center Marc Gasol, who scored 19 points along with 13 rebounds. All-Star power forward Zach Randolph added a double-double of 16 points, 14 rebounds. Twelve of Randolph's points came in the second half.
Orlando was led by Afflalo, who had a very good all-around game of 20 points, six rebounds, seven assists, and 2 blocks. Rookie small forward Moe Harkless added 19 points along with nine rebounds. Rookie power forward Andrew Nicholson scored 14 points, but had only one rebound in 33 minutes before fouling out. Center Nik Vucevic grabbed 11 rebounds, but scored only four points, all in the second half, before fouling out. E`Twaun Moore, starting at point guard in place of the injured Jameer Nelson, added 12 points with 7 assists, but shot just 5 of 18.
Neither team led by more than five points in the first half, as Orlando trailed 22-21 after one and 43-38 at the half, with the Grizzlies scoring the last six points of the first half to take the lead, a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the game.
The Magic struggled offensively in the third quarter, scoring just 15 points on 6 of 20 shooting, as the Grizzlies made a move to break the game open. Reserve Quincy Pondexter's three-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer gave Memphis a 67-53 lead going into the final quarter.
A dunk from Ed Davis gave the Grizzlies their largest lead of the game at 69-53 to open the fourth quarter, but to the Magic's credit, they did not give up, as they went on a 16-3 run to get right back in the game. They trailed 72-69 after a Harkless basket, and had a chance to get even closer, but Moore missed a long jumper after a Memphis turnover. Orlando was still within 74-71 after a Harkless layup, but the Grizzlies went on a 10-2 run to go ahead 84-73 and seal the game. The Magic scored 29 fourth-quarter points on 52% shooting.
Rookies Kyle O`Quinn and DeQuan Jones were the only reserves to see action for the Magic, and they combined for 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Point Guard Mike Conley had 14 points and 7 assists for Memphis, and Davis added 10 points.
Harkless played 46 minutes, Afflalo 44 minutes, and Moore 39 minutes for the shorthanded Magic, as O'Quinn was the only Magic player to play under 30 minutes.
Reinforcements should be on the way for the Magic Saturday night, fortunately, as they will take on the Cleveland Cavaliers in Orlando.