Grizzlies 88, Magic 76
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)
The Memphis Grizzlies continue to set new franchise standards as they gear up for the playoffs.
With Thursday night's 88-76 win over the short-handed Orlando Magic, Memphis grabbed the Western Conference's fourth seed and will have homecourt advantage in the opening round - the first time in team history the Grizzlies have enjoyed such a lofty postseason start.
''It's a big accomplishment from a historical perspective,'' Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. ''I told the players it means nothing except that we get the first two games at home. ... We have to go play and we have to go out and win.''
Marc Gasol scored 22 points and Rudy Gay added 20 to lead the Grizzlies, whose best previous seed for the playoffs was fifth in 2006. The Grizzlies, who also matched a franchise-best 11 straight home wins, will open the postseason Sunday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, who dropped to the fifth seed with the Memphis victory.
''We're going to play here. We don't have to go anywhere,'' Gay said. ''It's easier on our bodies. We have time to prepare here. And it's big for the city. It's good to have this for the city.''
Hedo Turkoglu, playing for the first time in 10 games because of a facial fracture, led the Magic with 18 points, hitting 7 of 13 shots. Justin Harper scored 16 points and Von Wafer added 11, although he was 4 of 13 from the field.
''It was OK,'' Turkoglu said of his return. ''Of course, I was winded a little bit at the beginning. But once I got up and down a little bit, I was feeling better.''
The Magic rested all their starters after earning the No. 6 seed in the East. They will travel to Indiana for their first round series against the third-seeded Pacers beginning Saturday.
''It's a really quick turnaround,'' Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ''We don't have much preparation time. Some of the guys that we need to play had to play minutes (against Memphis), so we'll really have to think about how much we can do. You are not going to be able to go crazy in terms of adjustments for Game 1 because you don't have much time.''
The Grizzlies made sure early they were staying home for the opening two playoff games. Memphis scored the first eight points of the game, had a 27-9 lead after one and built the advantage to as many as 24 before carrying a 54-30 lead into the break.
''It was just a terrible start,'' Van Gundy said. ''In the first quarter, we were inept. So, it was a bad start. From there, I thought we got a little better.''
Gay was 6 of 8 from the field, his only two misses coming from outside the arc, for 15 points in the first half, while Gasol had 12 points.
No Orlando player was in double figures, Harper leading the Magic with nine points.
The Magic were limited to 35-percent shooting while committing 10 turnovers, leading to 17 Memphis points. That shooting percentage included missing 11 of 13 from 3-point range.
Memphis wasn't much better at 2 for 9 from long range, but the Grizzlies controlled the boards 27-13. The Grizzlies outrebounded the Magic 45-34 overall.
Memphis tried to coast home too early with its halftime lead.
''Once (we) got up and saw that Orlando didn't have enough firepower, our guys relaxed a little,'' Hollins said. ''In the third quarter, we could barely make a shot.''
Orlando opened the second half with a 21-4 run, knocking the lead down to 58-51 after Turkoglu connected on a 3-pointer, giving him eight early points in the third quarter.
That was close enough to remind Memphis it was playing for homecourt advantage. The Grizzlies answered by closing the period with a 9-3 run and carried a 67-54 lead into the final quarter.
''Guys are looking forward to the playoffs,'' Conley said. ''Even (Orlando) was looking forward to the playoffs. Both teams were trying to get it over with. It became a game for a little bit. Luckily, we got it turned around.''
Memphis held a double-digit lead throughout the fourth, and by the time the reserves hit the floor with about 3 minutes left, the Grizzlies faithful were on their feet in preparation for the opening round, chanting `'Beat L.A.''
In the past two seasons, Memphis has gone from being winless in three previous playoff appearances to winning a playoff game, a road playoff game and a playoff series, after defeating the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the first round last year.
Now, they have taken another step up the ladder by adding homecourt advantage for the first round to the accomplishments.
''I've pretty much experienced the good, the bad and the ugly,'' said Mayo, who along with Mike Conley, Gay and Gasol were around before the playoff run. ''As I was coming off the court, I told Mike, Rudy and Marc, I remember when we were just trying to get 25 wins. There was a December where we didn't get a win the entire month, and we were just trying to get a win.
''It's crazy. Eventually, the young guns got older and got better and pretty much became the new kids and the best kids on the block.''
Notes: Randolph's start was his first since March 24. Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said he wanted to get Randolph into the flow of starting, but would not commit that the plan would continue into the playoffs. ... Turkoglu, playing for the first time after missing 10 games with a facial fracture, played with a plastic mask. ... Memphis G Mike Conley had a steal, pulling him even with Shane Battier for second place on the franchise list with 523. ... The Grizzlies are 17-1 when leading after the first quarter at home. .By finishing at 41-25, Memphis recorded a franchise-best 62.1 winning percentage.