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Magic start strong, but drop preseason opener in Memphis

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Sixteen Magic players logged minutes in Orlando’s opening preseason contest.

NBA: Preseason-Orlando Magic at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic took the floor Monday night for the first time this season, opening up their Preseason schedule at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN. The Memphis Grizzlies were able to grind out a 92-84 victory over the Magic in what can only be described as a typical early preseason game. There was sloppy play, poor shooting, and tons of guys on both rosters that logged minutes.

The Magic starters played 15 minutes apiece in the first half, and a couple guys in particular did some really nice things. Aaron Gordon played a nice overall floor game; he recorded a block, a steal, an assist, a few rebounds, and even connected on a couple rhythm jumpers from behind the arc. Evan Fournier added eight points in his 15 minutes of action (on 4-5 shooting) and dished out five assists.

The Grizzlies and Magic combined to shoot a paltry 38% from the field, and an even worse 18% from distance (the Magic took 32 three-point attempts in the contest, connected on 5). Couple the shooting woes with the fact that both teams combined to turn the ball over 32 times, and you had a relatively sloppy (but competitive) contest. Again, the starters didn’t play a lot of minutes in this one for either team, and it’s still so early in the process of being ready for Opening Night. None of what happened last night is to be unexpected.

One shining bright spot from last night’s game was the play of rookie forward Jonathan Isaac. Isaac led the Magic in points (15) and minutes on the eve of his 20th birthday (Happy Birthday Jonathan). Orlando’s lottery pick from last summer’s draft went 6-10 from the field (1-4 from “3”) while pulling down three rebounds, blocking a shot, and recording a steal.

“He looks like he belongs right now,” said Magic head coach Frank Vogel. “Obviously, he’s going to get his butt kicked a few different times this year, because he’s young and still has a lot to learn. But his instincts and raw talent and ability are exciting.”

Another jolt of energy off the bench last night was provided by newly-acquired swingman Jonathon Simmons, who emphatically hammered home a few thunderous dunks that brought the crowd (and Orlando’s bench) to their feet. Simmons added nine points, three rebounds, two steals, and two assists on the night in 16 minutes of action.

For those of you that are wondering/hoping/praying/stanning, Mario Hezonja logged 24 up-and-down minutes in the contest as well. Hezonja scored 12 points on 12 attempts from the field. He finished strong in the paint on a couple of occasions, but also missed two free-throws and missed all five of his three-point attempts.

“Super” Mario Chalmers led the Grizzlies with 20 points off the bench, and forward Jarell Martin chipped in with 19 points. Orlando native Chandler Parsons returned to the court in the contest; he started and scored six points in 18 minutes.

The Magic will be back in action Thursday night at the Amway Center against the Dallas Mavericks. Additionally, Orlando will be holding an open practice at the Amway Center today at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5, and tickets are available for the open practice through OrlandoMagic.com.