Late Rally Falls Short, Magic Lose To Grizzlies


After an excellent start which saw the Magic score the first seven points of the game and eventually take a 12-point first quarter lead, the Magic began to fall apart. They gave up 33 second quarter but scored 30 points of their own, holding a 58-54 halftime lead. However, the defense continued to play awful in the third quarter and the offense matched them as the Grizzlies outscored the Magic 32-16 to take an 86-74 lead into the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies got the first bucket of the fourth quarter but the Magic answered with a 12-0 run to cut the lead back to two. The Magic were down just a point with under 20 seconds to go but Hedo Turkoglu missed an open three-pointer and the Grizzlies hit two free throws. Jason Richardson’s last shot missed badly and the Magic fell 100-97.

Dwight Howard led the Magic with 25 points and 14 rebounds while Mike Conley had 26 points and 11 assists to lead the Grizzlies.

After the jump, you can read thoughts and observations from the game.

  • Turnovers and defense have been Orlando’s major problems this season and nothing changed Monday night. Orlando let the Grizzlies shoot 53.5% from the field. The saddest part is that their problems on defense can be greatly attributed to effort. When the Magic turned up the effort in the final quarter, they held the Grizzlies to just 14 points and got themselves back in the game.
  • Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay went just 9-of-26 from the field but Orlando did a terrible job defending the perimeter.
  • In fact, Orlando’s defense was so bad they had to go to a zone at one point.
  • Turnovers were an issue again with a good amount of them being avoidable. One that sticks out was Hedo’s fourth quarter pass across court that sailed over Jason Richardson’s head. Fitting the Magic’s chances went out the window when Ryan Anderson had the ball stolen by Mike Conley after getting an offensive rebound down just a point.
  • Dwight Howard was very good, again. Early on, it looked like he could be on his way to another 30 or 40 point game but he finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds. He did get into some foul trouble and had seven turnovers but those aren’t the biggest negatives for Howard. He once again committed a bone-head, easily avoidable technical foul with the Magic down one and the Grizzlies going to the free throw line. Luckily for Howard, Conley missed a free throw and the Magic still had a chance to tie. That’s just something you can’t do. For as much as Howard has matured and as great as he is, he knows the way he’s being officiated now and he has to adjust.
  • The Grizzlies went to a 2-3 zone after Orlando’s fantastic first half and it stymied the Magic because they have been ice-cold shooting lately. The Magic were 8-of-32 from beyond the arc Monday night.
  • Hedo Turkoglu had another poor game and is clearly being bothered by his nagging back injury. Turkoglu was terrible defensively and shot just 3-of-11 from the field. Some rest would do him some good.
  • I’ve been very negative so far but I would like to bring one positive out: Gilbert Arenas. Stan Van Gundy went with Arenas instead of Nelson down the stretch because he was playing well. He was driving to the hoop, taking advantage of his matchup with Mike Conley by posting him up and setting up his teammates with good looks (that they often couldn’t finish). He finished with 10 points, three assists and three rebounds.
  • To be fair, Orlando was without J.J. Redick and his sore left shoulder and lost Brandon Bass to an ankle injury in the fourth quarter.

Next Up: The Magic will get a couple of days off before hosting the Miami Heat Thursday night.

Final Thought: Van Gundy said it best after the game.

“We’re not ready to contend. We don’t defend hard enough or long enough. We’ll see if that changes over the next 10.5 weeks.”

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger 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).