Magic Play With “Fight,” Defeat Grizzlies 107-92

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In what became a wild game, the Orlando Magic defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 107-92. The crowd wasn’t into the game and there didn’t appear to be much intensity from either side in the early going. It looked like exactly what it was – two teams without a lot to play for at the end of the season.

Until the third quarter that is. That’s when a near-brawl broke out after Matt Barnes was called for an offensive fould. Barnes was given two technical fouls and ejected from the game. This not only got the crowd into the game, but it also seemed to spark the Magic. The Magic rallied from a 63-58 defecit, dominating the remainder of the game to win 107-92. Vince Carter scored 26 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out six assists. Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 24 points and 18 rebounds.

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The story of the night was the altercation between the two teams in the third quarter, but there was much more to take away from this game than just that.

The win means the Magic have now defeated every team in the NBA at least once.

The Magic played well defensively. The held the Grizzlies to 92 points, nearly 10 points below their season average and held them to an effective field goal percentage of just 42.0% The Magic also took advantage of some sloppy play on the Grizzlies’ part, scoring 25 points off of 15 Grizzlies turnovers.

The Magic had some struggles, but stepped up when they needed to.

“I thought we played well in the last 18 minutes of the game,” Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy told the media. “Particulary in the fourth quarter. I thought we played with a lot of fight and a lot of poise and composure in the fourth, which obviously, we didn’t have earlier.”

Vince Carter was fantastic. Carter scored 26 pointson 9-of-18 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out six assists all while turning the ball over just once. Carter also had another vintage Vinsanity moment when he came up with a steal and pulled of a 360-degree spin before slamming the ball home.

“It always fun to do,” Carter said. “I guess just so people can say “Oh he can still do it.” I can still do it. It’s just the after-effect sometimes. Like later on tonight, I’ll be like, “why the hell did I do it?””

Carter not only drove to the basket and got some excellent looks at the hoop, but did an excellent job of kicking the ball out to Orlando’s shooters, who made 13 three-pointers.

Rashard Lewis was the beneficiary of a lot of these kick-out passes. Lewis went 6-of-8 from the field and hit five of his seven three-point attempts, finishing the game with 18 points in just 27 minutes. How good was Lewis’ shooting on Sunday night? His effective field goal percentage was 106.0% and his true shooting percentage was 100.0%. J.J. Redick was also a recipient of many of these passes, hitting three of his six three-point attempts and finishing the game with 15 points.

Much like Carter, Jameer Nelson not only got his teammates involved (five assists) and took care of the ball (one turnover), but also was very efficient from the field. He scored 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting and hit two of his four three-point attempts. Not to be outdone, Nelson’s backup, Jason Williams had five assists as well. Orlando’s guards combined for 17 assists and turned the ball over just four times.

As a team, the Magic shot 13-of-29 from beyond the arc and finished with an effective field goal percentage of 54.2%.

Orlando’s bench really gave the Magic a lift. They outscored Memphis’ bench 37 – 19, lead by Redick’s 15 point and Brandon Bass’ 11. Bass didn’t shoot the ball well (4-of-11 from the field), but was very active. Bass grabbed three rebounds and played pretty solid defense, even blocking two shots. Bass’ defense seemed like a cuase for concern early in the season, but he looks like he has put in a lot of work and is defending his man much better.

Dwight Howard didn’t have much of a game numbers-wise. He scored just eight points on 2-of-6 shooting and couldn’t keep up with his season average, grabbing “only” 11 rebounds. Howard did however, play excellent defense and swatted five shots on the night. At one point, Howard was hit in the eye and headed back to the locker room. He later returned and Van Gundy said he would not have returned if his injury was serious.

When the game ended, Memphis Guard O.J. Mayo, who finished the game with 17 points, had a prediction for the Magic.

“They are the Eastern Conference Champs,” Mayo said. “They have the big man in the middle. Great perimeter players and headed for another Conference title.”

Game Notes:

  • Mickael Pietrus couldn’t keep up his hot shooting – he was 3-of-7 from the field and just 1-of-5 from downtown. He had seven points.
  • Marvin Gortat had seven rebounds in only 14 minutes.
  • If the Dallas Mavericks defeat the Portland Trail-Blazers on Wednesday, they too will have beaten every team in the league.
  • The Magic finished 14-1 at home vs the Western Conference, only losing to Dallas 95-85 on February 19th.
  • Vince Carter led the team in scoring for the 22nd time this season and in assists for the 12 time.
  • Five players scored in double figures for the Magic (Carter 26, Lewis 18, Nelson 18, Redick 15, Bass 11). Orlando is 35-6 when this happens.

Next Up: The Magic will host the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.

Final Thought: Dwight Howard scored eight points and the Magic beat a team over .500 by 15 points.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks and Sir Charles In Charge. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).