The Orlando Magic have prided themselves on playing tough
defense at home, but their last two games at the Amway Center were
anything but impressive.
The Magic will try to avoid losing three in a row at home for
the first time in nearly three years when they face the Memphis
Grizzlies on Monday night.
Coming off those back-to-back home defeats, Orlando (6-3) held
on for a 91-90 win at New Jersey on Saturday. Dwight Howard had 16
points and 10 rebounds and Jameer Nelson made a go-ahead basket
with 4.1 seconds left after missing two foul shots with 19 seconds
“We’d lost our last two, so good to get a win, no matter how you
do it,” said Nelson, who finished with 13 points. “We wanted to get
that taste out of our mouth and go out there and get a win.”
The Magic shot 41.6 percent – well below their season average of
45.3 – but outrebounded the Nets 43-31 and 13-2 on the offensive
boards. While New Jersey shot 55.3 percent in the first half, it
was held to 42.4 percent after the break.
“I’m happy for our guys but we still need to play better,” coach
Stan Van Gundy said.
Van Gundy is especially looking for better effort on defense.
While Orlando is allowing 92.9 points per game, it gave up 104 to
Utah and 110 to Toronto in the consecutive home defeats.
The Magic won their first four at the Amway Center by yielding
87.0 points a game on 40.1 percent shooting. They had the
second-best home record in the Eastern Conference over the previous
two seasons at 66-16 and haven’t dropped three in a row in Orlando
since a four-game skid Dec. 7-21, 2007.
The Magic are looking for their third straight home victory over
Memphis (4-6), which has dropped its last two. The Grizzlies lost
116-110 in overtime to Boston on Saturday, overcoming a slow start
but falling short.
The Grizzlies rallied from an 11-point deficit in the second
quarter to force the extra period, but the Celtics scored the first
seven points in OT. Memphis’ Zach Randolph finished with 21 points
and 11 rebounds but didn’t score in overtime.
Rudy Gay led the Grizzlies with 22 points on 10-of-18 shooting
and is averaging 25.2.
“As a group we are getting there,” said center Marc Gasol, who
had 14 points and six rebounds. “We realize that we can compete
against anybody. … We are 4-6 now and we are getting to that
point where we must keep fighting and never give up.”
Memphis has been prone to slow starts, allowing opponents to
average 55.0 points and 50.2 percent shooting before the break. In
the second half, however, the Grizzlies are giving up 48.1 points
on 43.4 percent from the field.
Boston shot 60.5 percent in the first half Saturday.
Memphis and Orlando split two meetings last season with each
winning at home. Randolph averaged 23.5 points and 18.5
The Grizzlies have lost their last two road games in the series
and are 4-10 all-time in Orlando.