Magic Defense Steps Up In Win Over Grizzlies


The Orlando Magic finally got off to a good start, jumping all over the Memphis Grizzlies 8-0. They continued to play excellent defense throughout the first half in a game that became a turnover fest. Orlando turned it over 14 times in the first half while the Grizzlies turned it over 13 times. Still, the Magic went into the break with a 47-34 lead. Orlando had a few defensive lapses in the third quarter, allowing the Grizzlies to get within 5 before turning the heat back up to finish the quarter with a 69-56 lead. The Magic continued to play solid defense in the fourth quarter and came away with

  • Marcin Gortat (at the 4) and Mickael Pietrus (at the 2) and Rashard Lewis (at the 3) showed off their versatility Monday night, playing different positions than they are used too.
  • Van Gundy was pleased with Pietrus’ performance despite him scoring just 6 points on 2-of-6 shooting. Pietrus played very well on the defensive end and grabbed 4 rebounds. Rebounding is something Van Gundy wants to see more of from Pietrus.
  • The Magic often used Gortat and Dwight Howard on the court together to counter Memphis’ size (Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and Darrell Arthur (yes, Hasheem Thabeet was purposely omitted)). Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy made sure to mention Brandon Bass’ name when he was asked about how Gortat and Howard played together. He was very pleased with all three of Orlando’s bigs in the game and with good reason. Howard finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds, Bass scored 10 points and pulled down 3 boards while Gortat scored 6 points and grabbed 3 rebounds. The offensive numbers aren’t great but the defense was.
  • Credit Rashard Lewis for defending both Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph and the defense of Rudy Gay by Orlando’s wings, Mickael Pietrus and Quentin Richardson – they held Memphis’ talented forward, Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph to a combined 18 points on 8-of-32 shooting. Very impressive.
  • The defensive performance of Orlando’s backcourt should not be overlooked either. They were constantly prodding and poking at the ball and held both O.J. Mayo and Mike Conley in check (22 combined points on 9-of-20 shooting).
  • Van Gundy thought part of the reason the Magic started the game off by turning the ball over so many times was because the Magic were so intense on the defensive end.
  • When asked about Van Gundy’s comment, Jameer Nelson answered, “Maybe we wanted to play more defense.”
  • Vince Carter also had an extremely efficient night, scoring 19 points on just 8 shots. Van Gundy thought Carter was one of the only players “under control” early in the game. Van Gundy doesn’t like when Carter is off balance on perimeter shots, saying when he takes balanced shots and goes up straight up, he feels “pretty good.”
  • “When you get 19 points on eight field goal attempts, yeah it’s pretty efficient.” – Van Gundy on Carter’s play.
  • The Magic were much better from the free throw line Monday night, going 27-of-34 from the stripe.
  • Memphis entered the game averaging 104 points per game. Their lowest season output prior to Monday night came on November 10th when the Dallas Mavericks held them to 91 points.
  • “I was really happy tonight,” Van Gundy said. “I know we’ve still got areas to work on but I was very happy.”

Next Up: The Magic will host the Phoenix Suns Thursday night.

Final Thought: That’s the Magic defense we’ve gotten used to seeing over the last few seasons.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, co-host of CB Sports Radio from 5-7 pm week days ( and ESPN 1080’s Magic Insider ( Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).