Coming off their second straight impressive win on Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets, the Orlando Magic continued their three game home stand with a game against Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies. After a quick paced opening quarter, Memphis slowed it down, taking home a 106-96 victory.
Early on, the Magic used their quickened pace and athleticism to jump out to a quick 11-4 lead. However, in typical Memphis style, the Grizzlies began to work and grind, chipping away bit by bit at the Magic lead. While the Magic's offense was flowing and working at a high level, their defense was almost the exact opposite. They struggled dealing with the Grizzlies physicality, and gave up easy buckets on many trips down the floor. Channing Frye got off to another quick start, scoring eight points to lead all scorers after 12 minutes. Soon to be All-Star starter Marc Gasol scored seven points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out three assists to lead Memphis' opening quarter attack.
As had been the case in their wins over the Chicago Bulls and Rockets earlier this week, Orlando's bench came into the second quarter and the team began to struggle. Without the likes of Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo, the lineup lacked a guard who would get out and push the pace no matter the situation. As the quarter wore on, however, things began to even out, mainly when Payton and Oladipo returned to the lineup. The Magic did struggle with turnovers in the second quarter, coughing it up seven times, but Memphis was unable to convert on most of them, scoring just three points off those miscues. Four Magic starters --Frye, Oladipo, Payton and Nikola Vucevic-- combined for 39 in the half, with Oladipo leading all three with 11. Tony Allen led all scorers with 12, with Gasol notching a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double in the half.
Out of halftime, the Magic began to become stagnant, with the pace slowing way down. Some of that, of course, is credit to Memphis and their 27th fastest pace in the league, but some of it also is on the Magic for not getting out like they did early. Despite improving some at points in the quarter, the ball continued to stick, with players trying to do it all themselves on multiple possessions. Playing to a pace that fits their style, Memphis had a big quarter, knocking down 11-of-21 from the field, and 10-of-13 from the line. All five Memphis starters were in double figures, led by both Courtney Lee and Zach Randolph with 16. Orlando was led by Vucevic, who had 18 through three.
Heading into the fourth quarter, things were beginning to look bleak for the Magic. Their offense was struggling mightily with the lack of pace, with their defense being unable to stop Memphis on a consistent basis. The Magic fought and clawed, trying to get back into it, but, thanks to a few calls that didn't go their way, along with inconsistent play, they were unable to take home their third straight quality win.
Memphis had an extremely balanced attack, finishing with six players in double figures. Jeff Green's 21 point night led the way for Memphis, with Randolph's 18-point, 11-rebound double-double following closely. The tenacious Allen finished with 17, with former Magic swingman Courtney Lee finishing with 16 on the night. Beno Udrih filled in for an injured Mike Conley, scoring 15 points and dishing out five assists. Gasol's big opening quarter paved the way for a monster 12-point, 16-rebound, eight assist performance.
The Magic had decent balance of their own, with four of five starters finishing in double figures. Payton led the way for the Magic with a career high 22 to go along with a career high 12 assists. Vucevic finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, with Frye finishing closely behind him, with 17. Oladipo rounded out the group, finishing with 16.