By John Denton
March 3, 2013
ORLANDO – Bedeviled one night by turnovers, another night by interior defensive issues and shooting woes in yet another game, the Orlando Magic are enduring the maddening inconsistencies now that often hit young teams hard in the NBA.
Just two nights after struggling late in a frustrating loss to Houston, the issue on Sunday night for the Magic came down to an inability to slow down the bigger, nastier Memphis Grizzlies on the inside. Despite not having all-star power forward Zach Randolph, Memphis did as it wanted on the inside to break the Magic’s will early on in a 108-82 win at the Amway Center.
It was a third straight loss for the Magic (16-44) since Tuesday’s stirring victory in Philadelphia. Strangely, there has been a different reason behind each loss. Orlando got outran by Sacramento on Wednesday, it turned the ball over nine times in the fourth quarter on Friday and it gave up 48 points in the paint on Sunday.
``There’s a reason they have the fifth-best record in the NBA; it is a good team,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said of the Grizzlies. ``They were able to use penetration. You go into a game and you would think maintaining a paint presence would be a priority for us, but then they start making shots. Your natural instinct is to adjust. The combination to us responding to them making shots early helped them get buckets at the basket.’’
The defensive struggles came on a night when Orlando was already well aware how difficult points would be to come by what with Memphis being tied for first in the NBA for points allowed per game (89.6 ppg.). The Magic managed just 35 points in the first half, hit only 39.7 percent of their shots and missed on 13 of 15 3-point shots.
Arron Afflalo led the Magic with 12 points in 31 minutes, while rookie forward Maurice Harkless chipped in 11 points and six rebounds. Tobias Harris, who came into the game averaging 20 points and shooting 69.6 percent in his first four games with the Magic, missed 11 of 14 shots, missed all five of his 3-point tries and scored only six points.
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