Grizzlies-Magic Preview

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

remaining.

“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

rebounds.

The Grizzlies have lost their last two road games in the series

and are 4-10 all-time in Orlando.