Postgame Report: Magic vs. Grizzlies (2/12/14)

By John Denton
Feb. 12, 2014

ORLANDO – An Orlando Magic team that had run its way to three straight impressive victories was sloppy with the ball and sluggish most of the night. A second unit that had been so good of late got outscored in the fourth period. And rookie guard Victor Oladipo – mostly unstoppable recently with his relentless hustle – surprisingly couldn’t shoot straight.

When the Magic lost 86-81 to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday at the Amway Center, the reasons for the defeat were quite evident. Still, the bitter result was somewhat shocking to an Orlando team that seemingly could do no wrong the past week.

``It was our game, I thought,’’ said Magic forward Tobias Harris, who had 13 points and seven rebounds in 34 minutes. ``We let that one slip away. It’s a tough one, but we just have to continue to get better.’’

Orlando (16-38) saw its modest three-game winning streak and its five-game home winning streak stopped as the first half of the season ended for the four-day NBA All-Star break. The Magic pulled off stirring come-from-behind victories against Oklahoma City and Indiana late last week, but they could not carry that momentum over against Memphis (29-23).

The Magic led 75-74, 77-76 and 79-78 late in the fourth quarter, but they were doomed by a step-back jumper from Zach Randolph (20 points) and a clear-path foul that resulted in a four-point swing. That ruling – which was confirmed by a replay review – happened with 35 seconds left and it turned a one-point game into a five-point deficit for the Magic.

``That was tough to swallow,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``We thought it would be side out of bounds, we’d get a stop and off we’d go. But that didn’t happen.’’

Orlando got 13 points and 10 rebounds from center Nikola Vucevic, who beat the shot clock with a 20-foot jump shot at the end of the shot clock to give the Magic a brief 77-76 lead. Oladipo, who keyed the wins against Oklahoma City and Indiana with stellar fourth-quarter performances, struggled all night and had just seven points on two of 11 shooting.

The Magic shot just 41 percent for the game and only 30.8 percent in the fourth quarter. Orlando had outscored foes 96-56 in the last three fourth quarters, but it got edged 22-20 in Wednesday’s deciding final period. Orlando turned the ball over 14 times, leading to 19 points for the usually slow-paced Grizzlies.

``I felt like we should have tried to play a little faster. We kind of played at their pace, which is what they wanted us to do, and they kept us in the halfcourt,’’ Vucevic said. ``It’s hard to play against them like that because they are a good defensive team. We should have tried to get the ball out to get some easy buckets.’’

The Magic will be off for the next four days for the NBA All-Star Game break. Arron Afflalo (Three-Point Competition) and Victor Oladipo (Rising Stars Game and Skills Challenge) will be in New Orleans for the all-star festivities. The Magic will return to practice on Monday and will play in Milwaukee on Tuesday. Orlando trailed by 17 points in the come-from-behind wins against OKC and Indiana, and they similarly fell down by double digits on Wednesday. Again, the Magic made a strong second-half push and used a 13-2 spurt in the third quarter to take their first lead ad 53-52.

Oladipo is hopeful that Orlando won’t be disrupted by Wednesday’s loss and the four-day break and it will be ready to continue playing well in the second half of the season.

``We learned that we’re capable of playing with anybody in this league,’’ the rookie said. ``I few keep the game close, keep working hard, playing defense and covering for each other, we have a shot of beating anybody.’’