The Memphis Grizzlies came into Monday night’s match-up having won five of their last six games, now granted that you could argue this is one of the weaker portions of Memphis’ schedule, but the Grizzlies needed a performance tonight to boost them towards the All-Star break.
They got just that.
Behind Mike Conley’s 26-point performance and the energy boost provided by Darrell Arthur off the bench early, the Grizzlies picked up a huge win over the Magic 100-97.
The opening tip brought a fast start for the Magic who came out quick shooting lights out from the floor but that would be the last we saw from them for much of the game.
Orlando shot an abysmal 8-32 from 3-point land, uncharacteristic by them to say the least.
As Tony Allen commented after the game, the Grizzlies’ zone defense forced Orlando into some unwanted shots.
“Our zone defense was good,” said Allen, “Coach throws it in a different times and tonight it worked.”
Sam Young also commented on the adjustments tonight that led to an improved second half for Memphis.
“They came out firing but we adapted to them in the second half and contested the three point shot, every shot they took was either blocked or contested.” said Young.
Those adjustments discussed by the players were needed after the Magic began the game going 12 of 19 from the field in the first quarter, and Memphis continued their string of slow starts going 8 of 17.
Trailing 28-21 at the end of the first quarter, you could argue that Rudy Gay single-handedly changed the game within the first 60 seconds of the second quarter.
Memphis forced a turnover that allowed Rudy to get out for a dunk in transition, but he was not finished.
The dunk, which was nine seconds into play, was followed by a second turnover forced by Memphis that allowed Gay to finish with a lay-up in transition.
With the Magic struggling to score against the zone defense of Memphis, the second string was led by Arthur who began the second quarter going four for four igniting the 13,000 in attendance.
Both the Magic and Grizzlies are known for being two of the more entertaining teams to watch in the league and the second and third quarters proved just that.
The opponents threw caution to the wind as teams exchanged dunks and forced sloppy play from one another before heading into half 58-54 Orlando ahead.
The Grizzlies came out ready to play in the second half as Marc Gasol and Zbo led the charge down low against a frustrated Dwight Howard.
Howard would finish with 25 points and 14 rebounds, but most of that was accumulated in the first portion of play.
It showed evident late in the game with Memphis leading by one and Conley on the line shooting, Howard was jawing in the paint and the officiating crew wanted none of that as they gave Howard a Technical foul.
Randolph, who finished with ten points and 9 rebounds, made the technical before Conley went one of two from the charity stripe.
Coach Stan van Gundy called time-out and drew up a play with just over five seconds remaining.
The play called for an inbound pass to what looked like Gilber Arenas, but he was unable to get free leaving the ball in the hands of Hedo Turkoglu who came up short fading away for three on the wing.
Memphis pulled within a half game of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Tweet of the night:
Sent in response to a tweet earlier in the game…
@Dopebyaccident iM SO mad im NOT at THAT GAME!!! SMH
If Memphis were to ever make the playoffs sometime soon, the atmosphere at the forum tonight will have matched it, great crowd.
Dunk of the game:
Arenas to Howard alley-hoop. Gilbert tossed to Howard from the right wing and Howard took off from what looked like the free-throw line to finish two-handed. (There is something special about watching that man fly through the air)
Quote of the night:
From some guy 5 rows up behind me while Turkoglu was shooting a free-throw
“Bologna is better than Turkey.”
Well played Memphis fan, well played.
All photos by Chase Gustafson for Memphisport.