The Orlando Magic have prided themselves on playing tough defense at home, but their last two games at the Amway Center were anything but impressive.
The Magic will try to avoid losing three in a row at home for the first time in nearly three years when they face the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night.
Coming off those back-to-back home defeats, Orlando (6-3) held on for a 91-90 win at New Jersey on Saturday. Dwight Howard(notes) had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Jameer Nelson(notes) made a go-ahead basket with 4.1 seconds left after missing two foul shots with 19 seconds remaining.
“We’d lost our last two, so good to get a win, no matter how you do it,” said Nelson, who finished with 13 points. “We wanted to get that taste out of our mouth and go out there and get a win.”
The Magic shot 41.6 percent - well below their season average of 45.3 - but outrebounded the Nets 43-31 and 13-2 on the offensive boards. While New Jersey shot 55.3 percent in the first half, it was held to 42.4 percent after the break.
“I’m happy for our guys but we still need to play better,” coach Stan Van Gundy said.
Van Gundy is especially looking for better effort on defense. While Orlando is allowing 92.9 points per game, it gave up 104 to Utah and 110 to Toronto in the consecutive home defeats.
The Magic won their first four at the Amway Center by yielding 87.0 points a game on 40.1 percent shooting. They had the second-best home record in the Eastern Conference over the previous two seasons at 66-16 and haven’t dropped three in a row in Orlando since a four-game skid Dec. 7-21, 2007.
The Magic are looking for their third straight home victory over Memphis (4-6), which has dropped its last two. The Grizzlies lost 116-110 in overtime to Boston on Saturday, overcoming a slow start but falling short.
The Grizzlies rallied from an 11-point deficit in the second quarter to force the extra period, but the Celtics scored the first seven points in OT. Memphis’ Zach Randolph(notes) finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds but didn’t score in overtime.
“As a group we are getting there,” said center Marc Gasol(notes), who had 14 points and six rebounds. “We realize that we can compete against anybody. … We are 4-6 now and we are getting to that point where we must keep fighting and never give up.”
Memphis has been prone to slow starts, allowing opponents to average 55.0 points and 50.2 percent shooting before the break. In the second half, however, the Grizzlies are giving up 48.1 points on 43.4 percent from the field.
Boston shot 60.5 percent in the first half Saturday.
Memphis and Orlando split two meetings last season with each winning at home. Randolph averaged 23.5 points and 18.5 rebounds.
The Grizzlies have lost their last two road games in the series and are 4-10 all-time in Orlando.