Orlando Magic Grades: Memphis Grizzlies 92, Orlando Magic 75

Mortiz Wagner is struggling to find his offense early in his tenure with the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
Mortiz Wagner is struggling to find his offense early in his tenure with the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports /

75. 38. 92. 211. Final

The Orlando Magic were taking the Memphis Grizzlies so far out of their game that even doing the one thing they could not do against the fast-breaking Grizzlies was working out in their favor. The Magic were turning the ball over but the Grizzlies were so sloppy that they were unable to convert and were turning the ball back.

Both teams entered the locker room at halftime feeling like they left a lot on the court.

The Magic knew their turnovers likely kept them from taking a larger lead into the locker room and that they would have to withstand a hot run from the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies knew they played poorly, unable to move the ball and giving the ball away. Orlando took advantage enough and took a nine-point lead early in the third quarter.

Then it all shifted. Exactly what was always supposed to happen in a game like this happened. And the Magic did not correct their mistakes, feeding into the Grizzlies’ scoring machine.

Memphis went on what ultimately became a 27-6 run that flipped the game on its head over eight minutes in the third quarter. It grew even bigger than that as the Grizzlies led by as much as 24 points in the second half on their way to a 92-75 win at FedExForum on Friday.

The Orlando Magic controlled the tempo and disrupted the Memphis Grizzlies’ rhythm for a half. Then the team could not get a shot to go down and the Grizzlies raced ahead in the third quarter to win.

Orlando could not find its offensive flow long enough to get back into the game. The Magic needed to keep the pace slow and muck the game up like they did to stay in this one with their shooting so low. The Magic did a good job of that, forcing seven turnovers in the first half.

But that quickly disappeared. Orlando had seven turnovers in the third quarter, leading to 11 Memphis points. After holding the Grizzlies to 11 fast-break points in the first half, they gave up 13 in the third quarter alone. The Magic made only 5 of 17 shots, as they were unable to stem the tide.

That has been the reality for the Magic. Their poor moments have been really poor and enough to bury the team in a deep deficit. Orlando never stopped fighting, cutting the lead to 11. But the team simply did not have the firepower or offense to break the Memphis defense down enough.

A-. . C. Orlando Magic. MOHAMED BAMBA

There have been few games where Mohamed Bamba‘s presence was truly felt. The best game of his career was probably his first game against Miami two years ago. He had a game last year in Cleveland where he made five 3-pointers. The moments have been few that he truly made an impact on both ends.

Friday night’s game might have been the best of Bamba’s career. And it was a game where he was making an impact on both ends. Bamba has had plenty of games where he put up good numbers — 15 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks, 6-for-9 shooting Friday, by the way — but few that felt like he helped turn the tide.

Bamba had a team-best -2 plus/minus, for all that is worth. But his energy and blocked shots helped turn the tide in the Magic’s favor in the second quarter. More than that, he was aggressive and playing with energy and it permeated the entire game. For the first time, it looked like opponents were keeping track of where he was. This was a game for Bamba to build on.

Orlando Magic. COLE ANTHONY. B. . PG

When the Orlando Magic were very good or in need of a basket in the first half, they turned to Cole Anthony and he seemed to create a great shot. He was playing fearlessly and aggressively, getting into the paint to finish or playing under enough control to hit a short jumper. Anthony continues to grow and expand his attacking abilities. He finished with 15 points and six rebounds on 7-for-14 shooting.

The third quarter was rough for him though. The Grizzlies upped their pressure on the rookie point guard and trapped him more on the perimeter. That slowed the Magic’s rhythm and ability to move the ball. Too often, Anthony and the Magic were trying to at it alone and their passing was just too imprecise.

C+. . F/C. Orlando Magic. MORITZ WAGNER

Moritz Wagner was billed as someone who could help spread the floor for the Orlando Magic as a shooter. The team was hopeful he could play some power forward, and that is indeed where he started with Chuma Okeke out with a sprained ankle. But that offense has not quite arrived yet. He was 0 for 7 for five points.

But Wagner is proving valuable in surprising ways. He was good on the glass with seven rebounds and was pesky defensively on the interior. He got his share of deflections and seemed to bother several Memphis Grizzlies players. He forced his share of turnovers. He is not a good fit at power forward. But that is where the team is relying on him with so many injuries decimating the roster.

G. Orlando Magic. R.J. HAMPTON. C.

The Orlando Magic are still figuring out what they have in R.J. Hampton. And his good moments seem to be counteracted with bad moments right now. It is clear why the Magic are trying to keep him off the ball for the moment and why they are still very excited for what he brings to the table.

Hampton finished with 11 points on 3-for-8 shooting. He showed off his speed in getting to the lane. But he would often get stuck and try some difficult passes to kick it out to the perimeter and keep plays alive rather than make the simple play. He still moves faster than he can think. And that is why he had five turnovers. He was not the only one. But this will be a key to Hampton’s individual development.

B-. . 32-30. 8th West. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

The Memphis Grizzlies did not play well in this game. They made only 34.3-percent of their shots and 11 of 32 3-pointers. They had a big spurt that staked them the lead and that was how the Grizzlies usually play. They got into the Orlando Magic, forced turnovers and turned them into transition points. Otherwise, the game was a complete struggle for Memphis.

There was some bad 3-point luck for sure. The Grizzlies missed their share of open 3-pointers in the game. And Ja Morant was oddly quiet with seven points on 3-for-12 shooting, although one of those plays was a windmill alley-oop dunk. The Grizzlies scratched enough points to hold the Magic off in this one. A better team would have feasted on their early mistakes.

Next. Mo Bamba will have his chance to improve this offseason. dark

The Magic are now 19-44 and 14th in the Eastern Conference with nine games remaining. They are tied with the Detroit Pistons for the second-best odds to win the NBA Draft Lottery.

With the Orlando Magic’s loss and the Washington Wizards’ win, the Magic have been eliminated from the playoffs. The Magic have also been eliminated from receiving the 12th, 13th and 14th best odds to win the NBA Draft Lottery.

With one more loss or one more New Orleans Pelicans win, they will be eliminated from receiving the 11th-best odds to win the NBA Draft Lottery.

The Orlando Magic will clinch top odds in the NBA Draft Lottery with any combination of nine more wins or nine more Minnesota Timberwolves losses. The Orlando Magic will be eliminated from having the worst record in the NBA with seven more wins or seven more Houston Rockets losses.

The Magic return to action Saturday at the Amway Center against the Memphis Grizzlies.