By John Denton
March 3, 2013
ORLANDO – ``It was an off night for me personally. It’s the NBA and you are going to have nights like that,’’ Harris said. ``You regroup and come back the next game. Hopefully, it’s nothing that lasts too long.’’
Orlando was without veteran point guard Jameer Nelson for a sixth straight game because of a bruised patellar tendon in his left knee. Nelson, who was injured last week in Dallas during a scrum for a loose ball, returned to practice on Saturday, but he was unable to go through the team’s morning walk-through on Sunday morning. Nelson’s availability for the upcoming roadtrip is uncertain.
Memphis (39-19) continued its push toward a top-four seed in the West with its ninth win in the past 10 games. Marc Gasol 12 points and 11 assists for the Grizzlies, who didn’t have Randolph because of an ankle injury. Tayshaun Prince, acquired in a midseason trade for Rudy Gay, scored 14 points.
``No matter what time in the game it is – whether it’s the fourth quarter and you are in or the first quarter – there has to be a standard that you have and a commitment to your teammates,’’ Vaughn said. ``You owe them to pay as hard as you can because it’s not guaranteed that you’ll get another opportunity.’’
The Magic are back in action Monday night when they will face the Hornets and Ryan Anderson in New Orleans. Anderson won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award last season while playing in Orlando. He signed a four-year, $34 million offer sheet with New Orleans in July, and the Magic declined to match it as they attempt to retain salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2014. Orlando ultimately traded Anderson for Gustavo Ayon, who they dealt to Milwaukee last week.
``For the whole team (Monday’s game) is important. A team like Memphis spanked us and a game (on Monday) will show how much pride that we have,’’ Harris said. The Magic then face the Miami Heat in South Florida on Wednesday. They return to the Amway Center on Friday night to host the Indiana Pacers.
The Magic and Grizzlies were playing for the second time in 10 days. Memphis defeated Orlando 88-82 last week in West Tennessee when the Magic had just seven players available because of injuries and trades.
Down as much as 25 points in the first half, Orlando didn’t help itself much in the third quarter by struggling to get stops defensively and turning the ball over four times offensively.
And the third period ended badly for the Magic when Memphis’ Jerryd Bayless hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer. A frustrated Harkless slammed the ball to the floor to elicit a technical foul. The free throw dropped Orlando into a humbling 83-57 hole before the fourth quarter ever began.
Orlando trailed 60-35 at the half after getting crushed inside even though the Grizzlies were without Randolph. The Grizzlies scored 20 of their first 31 points in the paint and finished the first half with 34 points in the lane.
Memphis led by as much as 25 points in the first half, while the Magic never led in the first 24 minutes. It was the third straight game in which Orlando has allowed at least 60 points in the first half – 67 to Sacramento, 64 to Houston and 60 to Memphis. The Magic missed all eight of their 3-point tries in the first half and made just 35.9 percent of their shots.
Magic veteran power forward Al Harrington was involved in a scary moment in the second quarter when he fouled Memphis’ Darrell Arthur and knocked him to the floor on his upper back and head. Arthur stayed on the floor for several minutes, but eventually got up and was able to continue. Referees reviewed the play and ruled that Harrington was going for the ball and a common foul was called.
Harris came into the game shooting 69.6 percent from the floor in his first four games with the Magic, but he struggled through a two of 10 shooting performance in the first half.
``I thought they might have been keying in a little bit to me, but as a player you have to adapt to what the other team is doing,’’ Harris said. ``You just have to find a way out there. I have to be a little more patient. I thought I had some pretty good looks, but they weren’t falling. You are going to have nights like that in this league. The important thing is coming out (Monday) and having a short-term memory after a game like this.’’
The lone bright spot early on was Harkless, who scored six points and grabbed four rebounds in the first two quarters. Harkless had a driving dunk and a spectacular follow-up dunk in the second quarter.
Vaughn saw a great teaching moment in the fourth quarter when Harrington, a 15-year veteran, converted a layup, stole an in-bounds pass, rebounded his own miss and scored a second consecutive basket. For Harrignton, every moment like that is important after he was away from basketball for 10 months because of a nasty staph infection in his surgically repaired right knee. Harrington had seven points and five rebounds in 18 minutes.
``The best thing that Al did for us was in that fourth quarter when he got a hustle play and a put-back play and it’s a great lesson for the guys that were in the game at that time,’’ Vaughn said. ``He knows that you can’t take this game for granted. He was out there using his minutes and playing extremely hard.’’
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