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Grizzlies 108, Magic 102: Orlando loses another close one on the road

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The two teams went blow-for-blow in an offensive first half and a defensive second half, but the Grizzlies came out on top in overtime.

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For the second game in a row in this terrible January, the Magic found themselves on the losing end of a close but winnable game, falling in overtime to the Grizzlies 108-102. They held a 4-point lead with 15 minutes remaining, but a costly turnover on an inbound play gave Memphis the chance they needed to tie the game in the waning seconds. Jeff Green was the star for Memphis, scoring a season high 30 points off the bench.  Tobias Harris led a balanced scoring effort for the Magic with 18 points.  Aaron Gordon started his second game in a row for Orlando, with Evan Fournier coming off the bench.

Orlando made a concerted effort to push the pace early, and it paid dividends on the offensive end of the court. Gordon's energy was a huge contribution, as he both passed and ran in transition to earn several layups and dunks for the Magic.  They even got points pushing the ball after two made baskets by Memphis, taking advantage of the Grizzlies' propensity to swarm the basket looking for offensive rebounds.  Gordon made much better use of his start than against the Hornets when he rapidly pick up 3 fouls in the first quarter.  This time around, he finished out the quarter with 8 points and 5 rebounds, while committing only 1 foul.  Gasol, unsurprisingly, was a bully in the post, earning 9 points, while Courtney Lee took care of things from the outside to get 10 for himself.  The Magic led 34-32 after the first.

The second quarter looked a lot like the first: lots of offense, no defense.  For the Magic, it was a total departure from their typical scoring deficiencies.  3-point shooting suddenly looked like a strength (8-16 by halftime), and they got to the line a much higher clip (9-10 FTs).  Tobias Harris was the leading scoring for the Magic at halftime with 11 points, 4 of which came on a 4-point play late in the second.

Unfortunately for Orlando, every time they looked like they were going to go on a run, they made a costly mistake that fueled Memphis's equally potent offense.  Turnovers were a particularly bad problem, with Jeff Green being the biggest beneficiary.  He had 17 points in the second quarter alone to keep the Grizzlies neck-and-neck with Orlando. When they weren't scoring off steals, Memphis was taking advantage of the Magic in the pick-and-roll and got several 3s off kickouts.  Orlando retained the slim 65-64 lead going into halftime.

The third quarter was a complete reversal from the shootout in the first half.  While each team averaged about 32 points a quarter up to that point, they managed only half that, going an even 16 to 16.  Turnovers continued to plague the Magic, but they were unable to compensate with their outside shooting as they had before.  At the same time, however, they limited the Grizzlies to only 1-6 shooting from beyond the arc, while forcing four TOs.  The Grizzlies looked to hold the lead at the end of the quarter. but Evan Fournier hit a monster 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to maintain the status quo. The score stood at 81-80 going into the final frame.

Memphis made a dedicated effort to hit the offensive glass hard in the fourth, and it paid dividends with several second chance points.  The Magic, however, responded with more energy of their own, preventing many easy looks, especially by cutting down on their own turnovers.  They traded blows back and forth as they had the whole game to keep the score tight right down to the end.  Orlando put together enough plays to get to a five point lead, but the Grizzlies came right back with an 8-0 run of their own. Soon after Memphis held a 5-point lead of their own, but Vucevic scored the Magic's next 6 points to put them right back in it. A 7-0 Magic run gave them a two-point lead with just 27 seconds left.  On the ensuing Memphis possession, Gasol fumbled away the ball near the paint, leading to a run-out Harris dunk and the 4-point lead.

The veteran team was not to be shaken, however, and rapidly pushed the ball back up to get a dunk from Green as the Magic scrambled. Memphis then stole the inbounds pass to Harris and got the tying basket from Green with just a second left on a tough hook.  Vucevic's tough jumper clanked off the rim as time expired, and the two teams took their close contest to overtime.

Overtime continued the low-scoring trend of the second half.  The Magic missed several excellent opportunities to take a commanding lead, missing two wide-open three pointers.  Instead, they had only one made basket in the first four minutes of the extra period, and allowed only one make to Memphis in that same period.  Unfortunately, they managed to foul the Grizzlies five times in that short period and got them into the bonus, where Conley and Zach Randolph put up another 3 points (which could have been 5 if not for two misses by Z-Bo). Oladipo's drive to the basket was smothered in the final minute, and Vucevic committed the intentional foul to put Lee on the line.  Another 1-2 trip gave the Grizzlies a 4-point lead they would not relinquish.  After another pair of free throws and another Magic miss, the Grizzlies walked away with the 6 point victory.

The Magic tip off again tomorrow in Milwaukee.