It took much longer than expected - 48 minutes and 55 seconds, to be exact - but the Magic finally did take the lead over the what was essentially the Grizzlies’ second unit.
Orlando, which trailed by 17 points in the third, managed to force overtime and then held off the hot-shooting Grizzlies in a back-and-forth extra session to earn a 123-119 win.
It was the Magic’s largest comeback victory of the season, giving them a fourth straight win. They have now won six straight home game for the first time since January of 2011.
But it wasn’t easy, to say the least.
With the Grizzlies missing half of their roster - Mike Conley Jr., Avery Bradley, Joakim Noah, C.J. Miles, Jaren Jackson Jr., Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson - this game was seemingly going to be a lay up for the Magic. No such thing for this team.
It was uglier than we thought it would be. It was more difficult that we thought it would be. It was more stressful than we thought it would be.— Orlando Pinstriped Post (@OPPMagicBlog) March 23, 2019
But the Magic won the damn game!
I need a drink. Goodnight!
The injury ravaged Grizzlies jumped out to a very quick lead over the Magic. Orlando missed its first eight field goal attempts as the Grizzlies built a 13-1 lead. Following a Steve Clifford timeout, the Magic went on to make six of their next seven shots to trim the deficit.
The Grizzlies, though, shot 57 percent in the quarter, compared to 40 percent for the Magic, to take a 33-23 lead after the first. Tyler Dorsey, getting the start for the shorthanded Grizzlies, scored 12 points in the first, setting a season-high in just 12 minutes. Chandler Parsons came off the bench to score nine points.
Terrence Ross went off early in the second quarter, hitting three threes and scoring 11 points in the opening three minutes to help the Magic cut the lead to 40-38. That included this SportsCenter Top-10 worthy play off a save by Michael Carter-Williams...
The Grizzlies reestablished a double-digit lead with just under four minutes remaining in the second as they continued to beat the Magic off the dribble and outwork them on the offensive glass. They shot 56.8 percent in the first half, connecting on 9 of 18 threes, to take a 64-58 lead into the break. Justin Holiday and Dorsey led the way with 15 points each, and Parsons added 14.
The Magic shot 48.8 percent, led by Ross, who shot 7-for-9 and had 19 first-half points.
The Magic had no answers for the Grizzlies in the third. The lead reached as many as 17 points after a 12-2 run by the Grizzlies that was capped by a Parsons three. Memphis shot 60 percent in the quarter, highlighted by a four-point play by Holiday, and took a 95-81 lead into the fourth. The highlight below shows what kind of a night it was for the Magic up to this point...
The Magic finally contained the Grizzlies in the fourth quarter, outscoring them 29-15. Ross scored 12 of the Magic’s first 16 points of the quarter, pulling Orlando within 99-97. D.J. Augustin later hit a three and then followed with a pretty layup to even the score at 104 with 4:18 remaining.
The Grizzlies again took a two-possession lead when Holiday hit a three for a 110-106 lead with 1:21 to go. Nikola Vucevic responded with a quick bucket, pulling the Magic within two. Out of a timeout, Fournier drove the lane and hit a contested layup to tie the score at 110 with 17.7 seconds remaining. Dorsey missed a 22-foot pull-up that he took a little too early, giving the Magic one final shot to win. Fournier, though, was short on a good look at a three.
Fournier did however give the Magic their first lead of the game when he converted a three-point play 55 seconds into overtime for a 113-112 advantage.
There would be six more lead changes in overtime as the two teams exchanged baskets. Fournier’s step-back jumper gave the Magic the lead for good at 119-118 with 1:14 to go. Vucevic followed with a drive that increased the lead to three.
Jonathan Isaac, seemingly playing superb defense with his hands straight up, was whistled for a foul on Dorsey as he leaned in for a three (we look forward to the NBA’s Last Two Minute report). Luckily, with a chance to tie the score, Dorsey made just one of three free throws. Fournier then hit two free throws to seal a win that was much more challenging to earn than expected for the Magic.
Ross led the Magic with 31 points, hitting a season-high eight three-pointers (8-for-12 on threes). Fournier - who after the game said, “That wasn’t fun at all.” - finished with 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Vucevic had 25 points but was limited to just four rebounds as Jonas Valanciunas dominated the glass (23 points, career-high 24 rebounds). Augustin added 20 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Aaron Gordon, coming off three-straight 20-point games, was very quiet with just five points, four assists and three rebounds. Carter-Williams went scoreless but once again made hustle plays and grabbed some key rebounds to make his impact felt.
The Grizzlies, who entered with the league’s worst offense, shot 50.5 from the field, including 15-for-38 from three (39.5 percent). Dorsey finished with a career-high 29 points, Holiday had 22 and Parsons finished with 17. Credit to the Grizzlies for one hell of a performance.
With the win, the Magic pulled within one game of the eighth-seeded Heat (with Miami down big in Milwaukee as I type this).
After a weekend off, the Magic conclude their homestand on Monday when the Sixers come to town. From there, the Magic begin a four-game road trip. It begins in Miami for a match-up with the Heat, making for what will be the most important Magic game in many years.