Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
Congratulations to you if you stuck out Orlando’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, in which the Magic were beaten far more thoroughly than the 88-76 score suggested. Now granted, the Magic started Hedo Turkoglu, Earl Clark, Chris Duhon, Von Wafer, and Daniel Orton. So we were never going to learn that much. But if there’s one thing to take away from this game, it’s this: it sure was on the schedule and some players sure did play it.
Sorry, guys. Totally didn’t mean to be glib. Some things definitely happened in this game!
Such as the Grizzlies coming out with all the focus that you’d imagine they would with first round home-court advantage in the balance and summarily blowing the Magic out for the first half. I did not write it down, but I’m pretty sure the Magic had nine points at the end of the first quarter. (UPDATE: I checked. Nine points.) The Grizzlies started Zach Randolph to test his legs before the playoffs started, and their ability to consistently run the offense through Randolph and Marc Gasol was the difference on a night when Justin Harper played what seemed like many hours worth of minutes.
Actually, you know what?
Justin Harper acquitted himself nicely, especially for somebody whose existence was a coin toss for me at tip-off. Although he shot 2-for-eleventyjabillion from three-point range, he was active and confident. His play during the third quarter, when the Magic cut the deficit to seven because the Grizzlies were drunk less focused, was a decent indication that the Magic could have a rotation player still developing. He’s still just a rookie, I’m given to understand!
Ish Smith also looked pretty good, and continues to look like a future long-term answer as a reserve point guard. The rest of the Magic were about usual, with the exception of Hedo Turkoglu making his monthly allotment of threes all at once. Thanks a lot, Hedo — not like Orlando could’ve used those LATER. It does bear mentioning that the team brought a strong effort in the second half, even after Marc Gasol stepped back on the Magic’s throat to put their adorable insurrection to rest.
The Grizzlies ought to be commended for taking their best-ever winning percentage into the postseason, as well as the hearts of the blogosphere. The Grizzles are stone cold likeable, and if Zach Randolph can get himself in a groove, they’ll be every bit the handful they were predicted to be at the start of the season. A great sign for them is that Rudy Gay is playing some smooth basketball right now and Marc Gasol is teaching geometry from the high post. Their series with the Clippers will rule.
Like I said, not too much to take away from this game, as four of the top … well, five dudes who will suit up for the first round sat out. A nice effort from some outclassed players, with the benefit of not quashing any hope that Ish Smith and Justin Harper could regularly play professional basketball. Everybody wins! Or, one team won. That team was not the Magic.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
What the heck. Let’s say Harper. Stand up, young man, and get recognized for being a nearby person when Daniel Orton picked up his second foul! Marc Gasol was actually the player with the most value, though.
LVP (Least Valuable Player)
Von Wafer. More like VON OH-FER, amirite!? His chuckeriness shot 4-for-13 from the floor. Oh but, Daniel Orton was pretty bad. Oh! So was Duhon. I just can’t decide.
Gilbert Arenas has shown that he still has what it takes to make aggrieved-looking facial expressions on a playoff team.