Orlando Magic Grades: Memphis Grizzlies 95, Orlando Magic 94

An injury-riddled Memphis Grizzlies came back on the Orlando Magic to sneak in a win. The Magic’s defense continued to thrive as their offense struggled.

VS.
1 2 3 4 T
Magic 28 21 19 26 94
Grizzlies 30 20 15 30 95

The Orlando Magic were coming off a complete game against the San Antonio Spurs, but they lost the second game of this five-game road trip.

The Magic played great defense, as they limited the Memphis Grizzlies to only 95 points. This was meant to be a grind-it-out game as both teams are struggling on offense.

In the end, though, the Grizzlies defense helped lead a comeback from 14 points down midway through the fourth quarter and the offense made the plays down the stretch.

JaMychal Green hit a 3-pointer to bring the Grizzlies within one. After Nikola Vucevic‘s 3-pointer with 20 seconds left fell in and out no good, Marc Gasol drew a foul on Bismack Biyombo to give the Grizzlies a one-point lead.

The Magic did not even get off a shot on their final possession as the Grizzlies held on for the 95-94 at FedExForum on Thursday.

The Magic had 18 turnovers, which played a huge part in the Grizzlies comeback. The Magic had six turnovers in the fourth quarter. The offense froze in the fourth quarter and Vogel and the Magic had no answer on the defensive end.

The Magic failed to do some of the basic things they wanted to do, giving up 30 points in the first and final quarter in coughing up their seemingly sure win.

The Magic failed to contain Marc Gasol. He scored 25 points and had huge defensive stops, where he totaled five blocks for the game. Gasol’s 10 points in the fourth quarter were a catalyst to the Grizzlies comeback. Gasol could not be stopped, he blew by Vucevic to the rim and even Biyombo with 12 seconds to go.

Tony Allen changed the game with three steals in the fourth quarter and some catalyzing defensive play on a suddenly hot Jeff Green and then Evan Fournier. The Magic offense got stuck and stymied as the Grizzlies pulled away for the win.

Evan Fournier

G/F, Orlando Magic

A-
Evan Fournier simply could do no wrong on the offensive end tonight. He had a great game offensively as he finished with 28 points (11 for 14 field goals). He was on fire to start the game as he finished the first half with 7-for-7 shooting from the field. The rest of the Magic team struggled throughout the game on offense. The Magic shot 36.6 percent (22 for 60) from the field, excluding Fournier.

Fournier had 14 assists in the last two games, as he continued to break down the offense on the drive and dished out passes to shooters. He finished with four assists.

Fournier struggled on defense at times. He looked fatigued at times. He struggled to switch on screens occasionally.

He was matched with the Tony Allen, former defensive player of the year. He guarded Allen well. But Troy Daniels brought instant offense off the bench. He scored 19 points. Fournier was unable to get to him at times coming off an off-ball screen by one of the Memphis big men.

Elfrid Payton

PG, Orlando Magic

C-
Elfrid Payton had been great off the bench in the last two games, as he averaged 13 points on 61 percent shooting from the field. Thursday, he struggled to drive into the lanes and attempt to break down the Memphis defense.

He has struggled shooting the ball beyond the arc this season, shooting a career-low 19 percent. He is at his best when he drives to the basket. He finished the game with three points, shooting 1 for 8 from the field (12.5 percnet). He picked up two quick fouls, which limited his minutes in the first half.

The Memphis defense seemed to frustrate him, which translated in him picking up a technical foul. Down the stretch in the fourth quarter, he had two key turnovers which resulted in Memphis points at the other end. He froze on the Magic’s potential game-winning possession as he had an open look but hesitated to shoot and attempted to drive to the basket, which resulted in a turnover.

He was not the usual Elfrid Payton that Magic fans are accustomed to seeing. His ankle could have been bothering him when in the previous game against the Spurs, his foot got tangled up with Vucevic’s. To win basketball games, Magic need better outing from Elfrid on both ends of the floor.

Nikola Vucevic

C, Orlando Magic

B-
Nikola Vucevic had an acceptable game offensively as he totaled 18 points on 6-for-15 shooting (40 percent). He made great passes out of the post matchup, hit a few jumpers, including a 3-pointer which extended the Magic lead to seven.

He finished with 11 rebounds, en route to his fifth straight double-double. He was great at boxing out and kept Marc Gasol off the boards, limiting Gasol to only two rebounds.

But he struggled immensely on the defensive end. He was late to contest on jump shots and drives. Multiple times during the game, Gasol drove past him for an easy layup. Extending out to the perimeter due to Gasol’s improved shooting was a big problem for Vucevic. He did not move his feet well and did a poor job outside the painted area.

Vucevic has been criticized for his defense in the paint, he did an acceptable job tonight on the interior, going straight up on occasion to contest drives, as he finished with three blocks.

Memphis Grizzlies

12-8, 6th West

A
The Memphis Grizzlies defined their “Grit-And-Grind” mentality tonight. They played great defense on the Magic, they stayed with their gameplan and believed when they got pinned down by the Magic by as much as 14 points.

With key players, such as the Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Chandler Parsons and a few more, out, the Grizzlies never looked at those factors and let their guard down. They got into the passing lanes, forcing 18 turnovers for the Magic. They scored 38 points in the paint.

The Grizzlies got a huge boost from the bench as Wade Baldwin IV and Troy Daniels came off the bench to provide the Grizzlies with tough shots time and time again. The Grizzlies never seemed to give up on the game, as the home crowd of FedEx Forum stood behind them and cheered for their wounded Grizzlies. This was a game they needed after losing their last game against the Raptors by 15 points.

This article originally appeared on

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