Paolo Banchero scored 20 of his 30 points in the third quarter and Franz Wagner had 19 of his 22 in the fourth, but the Orlando Magic, despite a valiant comeback attempt, fell 123-115 to the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night at Amway Center.
The Magic, once down as many as 25 and by 17 with a little over five minutes left in the fourth, pulled within six with under two minutes left. Wagner made five of his six floor shots during that time, while Caleb Houstan drilled the 3-pointer that got Orlando within six. That was the last field goal made by either team, as Ja Morant, who finished with 32 points, sank three free throws in the final 1:21 to seal it for Memphis.
With Banchero scoring 20 of his points in the third quarter, it was just the 16th time a Magic player scored 20-plus in a quarter since the NBA starting tracking quarter-by-quarter data in the 1996-97 season. The most scored by an Orlando player during this time in any one period is 25, Tracy McGrady’s second-quarter total against the Denver Nuggets on March 9, 2003.
Jalen Suggs, who missed the last 19 games with a sore ankle, returned to the lineup. He only played five minutes, however, and finished with two points on 1-of-4 shooting from the field.
The Grizzlies, who lead the league in paint points, outscored the Magic by 24 in the paint during Thursday’s contest. Memphis also won the bench battle. Their reserves totaled 42 points, 11 more than Orlando’s bench.
Bol Bol (health and safety protocols), Chuma Okeke (left knee surgery), and Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury recovery) were out for the Magic. Moe Wagner completed his two-game suspension for his role in last week’s altercation in Detroit. Desmond Bane (toe), Brandon Clarke (hip) and Danny Green (knee) were unavailable for the Grizzlies.
This Day in History
The Magic hosted the Grizzlies once before on a Jan. 5. But that was when they were the Vancouver Grizzlies. On this day in 2000, Chris Gatling led Orlando with 23 points, while Tariq Abdul-Wahad scored 17 and John Amaechi had 16 in a lopsided Magic victory. Shareef Abdur-Rahim, now the NBA G League president, led the Grizzlies with 17 points, while Michael Dickerson had 16 and Mike Bibby tallied 14 points and nine assists.
The Grizzlies were a fun story last year. This year, they feel like legitimate championship contenders. They are a much better defensive team this year. Entering Thursday’s action, they had the league’s third-best defensive rating (108.9) and opponents were shooting a league-worst 44.2 percent from the field against them. The West so wide open right now. Expect to see some Game 7s in the playoffs. That’s what usually happens when the gap between the teams is small.
The Magic head out West for a five-game trip, with the first stop being in San Francisco for a clash with the defending-champion Warriors on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET. Orlando and Golden State played a thriller at Amway Center on Nov. 3. Suggs, who finished with 26 points, made clutch shots late to propel the Magic to the victory. It was the fifth straight time the Magic beat the Warriors at home. They have not had the same success playing on the road against them, however. The last time the Magic beat the Warriors in either their old arena or new one was on Dec. 13, 2012.