Recap: Memphis Grizzlies 100, Orlando Magic 97 | Magic Basketball

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Jan 31

Recap: Memphis Grizzlies 100, Orlando Magic 97

AP Photo/ Mark Weber

BOX SCORE

If the game against the Chicago Bulls may have put the nail in the coffin for a team considered by many as part of the elite in the NBA, consider the case closed now as the Memphis Grizzlies were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 100-97. To be rather blunt, stupidity almost cost the Magic a chance to tie the game at the end of regulation. With 5.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Mike Conley headed to the foul throw line after Jason Richardson fouled him following a missed three-pointer by Hedo Turkoglu that could have given Orlando the lead. But before Conley went to shoot his free-throws, Dwight Howard – inexplicably — mouthed off at one of the officials and earned a technical foul at the most inopportune time. This is the franchise player for the Magic, and he was unable to keep his mouth shut at a crucial moment in time. Fortunately for Howard, after Zach Randolph made the technical free-throw to give the Grizzlies a two-point lead, Conley missed one of two free-throws. That gave Orlando one last chance at tying things up, but Richardson missed a 30-foot three-point heave with time expiring. Another loss for the Magic and it’s becoming clear that this is a flawed team that has little chance of competing for the Eastern Conference title in their current form. Memphis was led by a balanced attack, six players scored in double-figures. However, the player of the game for the Grizzlies was Conley, who finished with 26 points and 11 assists — first time in his career that he’s been able to amass more than 20 points and 10 assists in the same game. Orlando was led by a balanced attack as well, with six players scoring in double-figures. Howard finished with 25 points, 14 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks but also had seven turnovers. Also, Brandon Bass left in the third quarter with a sprained right ankle.

Where to start?

If Conley putting up 26 points and 11 assists isn’t another example that the Magic’s perimeter defense is a problem, then who knows. Jameer Nelson and Gilbert Arenas were unable to prevent Conley from dribble penetrating into the lane and breaking down Orlando defensively. And when Conley wasn’t too busy trying to attack the basket or lure defenders to him in the paint, he had a number of wide-open looks from the three-point line. Poor recovery from Nelson and Arenas is the reason that Conley went 4-of-6 from three-point range.

Of course, that’s not the only problem the Magic have on defense. When Howard is sitting on the bench, Orlando has no presence in the interior defensively. Memphis, like other teams in recent weeks, have been able to run roughshod at Bass and Ryan Anderson because they know there’s little they can do to protect the rim due to a lack of size (Bass) and athleticism (Anderson). Not sure what will happen at the trade deadline but general manager Otis Smith has to acquire a competent back-up center. This is a fatal flaw for the Magic right now.

Perimeter defense and a lack of a back-up center is killing Orlando.

Despite trailing by as many as 12 points, the Magic deserve credit for fighting back and not giving up. With Bass sidelined to an injury, head coach Stan Van Gundy opted to go with a 5-man combination of Arenas-Richardson-Turkoglu-Anderson-Howard in the fourth quarter. Surprisingly enough, more so because of Arenas’ unpredictability, the lineup worked. Arenas was spectacular, able to exploit Greivis Vasquez on the low block for a few buckets as well, as make some nice passes to Howard for a few dunks. Arenas’ energy level was excellent.

Too little, too late though.

It’s also worth noting that, aside from his technical foul, Howard made another miscue late in the fourth quarter when Orlando was trailing by the score of 98-96 with 1:07 left. Howard committed an offensive foul, specifically a moving screen, that robbed the Magic a chance to either tie or take the lead. Howard is a great player but dumb mistakes by him were costly.

This isn’t the single-out Howard by any means, but he was in the middle of some possessions that could have turned out better for Orlando. As such, the Magic have another loss and now have to face the prospect of possibly missing Bass for an extended amount of time. Orlando’s frontcourt is already thin, so it’ll be interesting to see if Bass can heal in time for Thursday’s game against the Miami Heat. If not, well, the Magic have other issues that they have to take care of.

7 comments
Ghosthead12
Ghosthead12

@TimJ I hope that isn't the case, that Howard has mentally checked out on this team, word has it that it was him that wanted Carter and Lewis gone, and who wanted Turkoglu back. That trade, in theory fixed the problem that were Lewis and Carter not producing offensively... but what about that old adage that "Defense wins Championships"? That trade made the Magic very weak defensively. Gortat and Pietrus had to go, and Lewis was a better defender than people gave him credit for. Carter was also marginally better defender than JRich.

Amaleika
Amaleika

it was really a stupid lost. one scene in the game was the magics have lost the contact to memphis in the game in a phase where every shot goes for the grizzleys in this 10 magic offensive possesion, if i remember correct, was 5 tournovers three of them on offensive fouls.
as an playe with an high basketball iq you have to read the storyline of a game correct. if you see your opponement is on fire.... you have to go with him on easy basket to do not get him away from you ... you cant make trys with an high risk and make stupid clear offensive fouls. if i remember correct 2 offensive fouls was from dwight one from gilbert and it was all in 2 minutes.

it is al little bit strange in the early steps in the season our pgs was able to hold good pg down in scoring....now it seems every better one pg not only westwood.... is killing us easily.
you can win this game easily with a little more effort at team defending and on the offensive end if you see the threes dont falling you have to adjust your offensive weapons until you are in the game and get warm.

Wundervogel
Wundervogel

Yeah, right now we are a super good regular seasons team. As anyone noticed how many 3's Ryan Anderson puts up a game? 5-10 it seems. I don't know his actual attempts, but I have noticed the numbers have jumped since Rashard left. We have problems. Yes, I think Dwight is not as aggressive right now on the defensive end. If he goes to the bench we automatically start getting killed. It's a problem. Meanwhile, Gortat is posting career numbers in Phoenix. Haha

Adolfo
Adolfo

The worst issue is that Dwight seems more frustrated every time... I'm not sure, what do you think guys? Magic's poor defense comes from the players or from the play board? Because during the 4th quarter the Magic almost steal the game, there was a time frame where the defense was pulling off the game then felt, apparently some guys didn't put enough effort... why?, injuries?, no interest?, laziness? apparently the team cannot win against .500 or more teams!!!

Jax502
Jax502

I smell another trade coming, but I'm not sure how Smith will pull this off...we need another big obviously who can fill in Howard's spot, but at the same time we need some good perimeter defender like Pietrus who can also score.

TimJ
TimJ

I'd like to ask about a particular situation on defense I've noticed. One of the perimeter defenders lets his man get by him, and then Dwight seems to leave his man really early to help. The ball handler passes to him for an easy dunk. Dwight turns around and complains that no one helped cover his man. This seems to happen 5-10 times per game.

Is this a symptom of the original perimeter defense, or poor team defense where someone else doesn't rotate over. I don't follow the NBA enough to know where the breakdown occurs. I ask because it seems like Dwight is leaving his man wide open too early and expecting a miracle behind him. I also noticed that until the 4th quarter, Dwight has been averaging about 2 fouls per game since he fouled out against Philly. Is it possible he's decided not to challenge to try to clean up mistakes as much so he can stay on the floor? My conspiracy theory is that he's already checked out on the team. But maybe I'm wrong: he might be doing everything right and either the original penetration or the rotations need to improve.

RL Magic
RL Magic

oh man, I share your pessimism Eddy, this team is not "elite" any more, we're inconsistent. In the past years when the 3 wasn't falling, it used defense to grind out wins. Now there's no defense, and right now the team's big shooters (JJ, Hedo, JRich) are in the midst of a shooting slump.

And let's not even talk about the giant hole that exists when Dwight is on the bench. Now what's surprising is how long it took opposing teams to take advantage of this deficiency