Jerryd Bayless came flying off a screen that left Beno Udrih in his dust at the end of the third quarter. Bayless, a sharpshooter who has bounced around a few teams before finally finding a home in Memphis, drained the 3-pointer to give the Grizzlies a 25-point lead at the end of the third quarter.
The made shot fell to Maurice Harkless as players began to head toward the bench. Harkless, in a moment of frustration slammed the ball hard against the floor. He said he only wanted to slam it so he could catch it and that it hit the floor much harder than he anticipated.
It was a symbol perhaps of the frustration the Magic had all night from getting beat down and destroyed on their home floor from the opening tip yet again. At some point, it had to boil over — even from a relatively quiet guy like Maurice Harkless.
"The season has been very frustrating," Harkless said. "I try not to show it. Sometimes it comes out. Unfortunately, I got a tech for it."
The frustration may grow when Harkless sees that money deducted from his paycheck. Still, in some ways, it was nice to see the Magic were not going to completely accept the losing and the blowout they were taking.
The fourth quarter — and really the second half — saw a Magic team that was playing better and playing even with the Grizzlies. The fourth quarter saw a new group of guys from the end of the bench playing with energy and the desire to be on the floor.
It is a 48-minute game however and the first 24 minutes were squarely in Memphis' favor. The Grizzlies loosened the defense by making shots early and then ate away the Magic from the interior, racing out to a nine-point lead by the middle of the first quarter and never really getting threatened again in a 108-82 win at Amway Center on Sunday.
Memphis shot 53 percent from the floor and hit 11 of 24 3-pointers, finding whatever the team needed to cure its offensive woes. Tayshaun Prince was the high scorer for the game with 14 points and Marc Gasol added 12 points and a career-high 11 assists.
The Grizzlies had 48 points in the paint, outscoring the Magic 42-26 in the paint through three quarters. They took a 32-point lead in the fourth quarter and made the rest of the game a formality. The Grizzlies and the Magic both had reserves in for the majority of the fourth quarter.
Any positive you could take out of this game was the realization that the Magic need a stronger, more consistent effort to have any chance at defeating a strong team like the Grizzlies. Or any team for that matter, it seems.
"The guys, including myself, want to get better," Arron Afflalo said. "Nobody likes to lose. But there are a lot of habits that have to be instilled. There is a lot more pride that needs to be taken in what you do. And a lot of that stuff comes through tough circumstances or tough experiences that usually older players have been through."
In a lot of ways this was another difficult lesson for the Magic and another learning experience.
Tobias Harris, coming off back-to-back career-high scoring performances, scored only six points on 3-for-14 shooting. He missed all five of his 3-point attempts. While he was still aggressive with the ball, the strong Grizzlies defense forced him into difficult positions and traps and they did a good job keying in on him while he was in the game.
It was a learning experience for Harris on that front for sure.
Maurice Harkless, continuing to display comfort and confidence on offense, picked up some of that slack in scoring 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting and grabbing six rebounds. He added a 3-pointer and a couple of thunderous dunks that caught the sleepy Amway Center crowd's attention (it was also the lowest attendance for the Magic since moving into Amway Center tonight).
Andrew Nicholson, Arron Afflalo and E'Twaun Moore also added 12 points each for the Magic with Moore adding six assists.
The individual numbers and play are nice, but they do not make wins. Not with the way Orlando was getting destroyed inside and not with the way the team was struggling to crack a tough Memphis defense.
The team knew that task would be tough, but perhaps not this tough. The Magic made only 39.7 percent of their shots and 2 of 15 from beyond the arc.
It was indeed a rough outing for Orlando in all facets of the game.
For a team growing, the clear message is to come back out the next game — Monday night in new Orleans — and put in a much better and concerted effort.
"I think for the whole team it’s important," Harris said. "A team like Memphis tonight, they just kind of spanked us. Tomorrow is going to show how much pride we have as a team and I think that’s important."