Orlando Magic Grades: Orlando Magic 112, Memphis Grizzlies 102
The Orlando Magic had gone several weeks exchanging wins for losses and treading water. As they came out of the Christmas break, they hoped for a bit more consistency. That was what team leaders were calling for after a stellar defensive performance against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.
Consistency may still be a few games away. But no one can play three good games in a row without playing two first.
And from the start, again, Orlando asserted its dominance and put the hammer down.
Jodie Meeks got things started with a barrage of threes early as the Magic defense stifled the Memphis Grizzlies in the paint, turning their vaunted big men helpless on the glass and around the basket.
Aaron Gordon took Orlando home with 15 of his 30 points in the third quarter, including 12 straight at one point to stretch the lead back out beyond 20 points.
Orlando celebrated the holidays a day later with an 112-102 win over Memphis at Amway Center on Monday.
“We’ve started to gel,” coach Frank Vogel said. “It takes time to get to know each other and know where the shots are going to come. I’m figuring out how to use different guys. We said all along it will take time. Hopefully, we’ve made some progress. We’ve looked pretty good offensively over the last X amount of games. Hopefully, it continues.”
Orlando kept the offensive pressure on, shooting 50.6 percent from the floor, and 13 for 26 from beyond the arc. The team never really let up, making shots at an incredible clip.
Even when Troy Daniels or Marc Gasol got their offensive games rolling, the Magic had an answer on the offensive end, tearing apart a vaunted Grizzlies defense still struggling to integrate the returning Chandler Parsons and Mike Conley.
Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton were both attacking and probing the lane scoring seemingly at will — eventually Payton finding Gordon for a highlight-reel one-handed jam from Gordon. With all the other highlights he was producing, that one was just the icing on top.
SF, Orlando Magic
Then the third quarter started and Gordon picked up confidence. As each shot went in, each seemingly more improbable than the last, his confidence only grew. then came the crossover step back for a three and then another bucket with a defender on him. Gordon finished with 30 points, scoring 15 in the third quarter including 12 straight to stave off a Memphis rally.
Gordon hit 11 of his 15 shots and all four of his 3-pointers. He was the unquestioned star, putting the hammer down on a big lead already. And a second 30-point game this year suggested there are still big things to come as he gets more confident offensively.
SG, Orlando Magic
This is essentially what the Magic brought Meeks in to do. He is here to make open shots when the opportunity arises nad be at least neutral defensively.
Meeks performed both these roles well. The Grizzlies left him open and he took advantage, making them pay early and staking the Magic an early lead that made the rest of their shots easy to make.
C, Orlando Magic
Biyombo scored 10 points to go with 12 rebounds, including six offensive rebounds. That is the kind of energy Biyombo brings constantly to the team.
There were still a few moments where Biyombo was over eager to block a shot or a little late to the play. But he was generally very good for the Magic throughout the night and aggressively hitting the backboard and doing the dirty work the Magic signed him to do. He set the tone for the Magic defensively once again.
PG, Orlando Magic
Really, from the first time he touched the ball, he was going for the basket and looking to make the Grizzlies’ defense collapse. He scored 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting, adding seven assists.
The dribbling and waiting Payton seems to be gone. This is a Payton that is going right at the basket at all times. In transtiion, espeically, he is adept at getting to the rim and finishing in traffic. When Payton plays at this level, the Magic are truly another kind of team.
20-13, 6th West
Second, Troy Daniels nearly shot the Grizzlies back into keeping this game interesting with 16 points off the bench including 4-for-8 shooting from beyond the arc. Daniels has done that to a few teams now, including the Magic.
But, ultimately, Memphis has to be upset with its performance. Very upset. The Grizzlies were outclassed in every way. They got ripped apart by the Magic and were never really in the game, falling behind by 18 in the first quarter and as much as 29. their late run was really a mirage as the Magic eased off the gas pedal some.
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