MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—The Memphis Grizzlies got aggressive on defense down the stretch.
Memphis, which had seven players in double figures, outscored the Magic 18-4 in the final 4:05 to secure its 12th win in 14 games. Orlando lost its second straight and has dropped three of four.
“We just picked up our defensive intensity and got stops,” Swift said. “We rebounded the ball at the end of the game, and that was the key.”
The Grizzlies needed the balanced offense after Pau Gasol, their leading scorer and rebounder, was placed on the injured list earlier in the day with a left foot injury. In addition, key reserve Bonzi Wells sat out with a groin strain.
“There’s no panic,” Swift said. “We’ve got enough guys on this team with talent who can play. When somebody goes down, we can replace them.”
James Posey and Lorenzen Wright each scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Earl Watson and Shane Battier, who helped during the final rally, added 11 points apiece, although they were a combined 7-of-22 from the field.
It marked the second straight night the Magic couldn’t capitalize on their opponent being without its top scorer. Houston played without Tracy McGrady, who was tending to a family emergency, while defeating the Magic 89-78 on Monday night.
“That’s tough, man,” Francis said. “We faced the same thing (Monday) night and couldn’t get it done.”
The teams exchanged leads midway through the final period. A three-point play by Swift followed by a 3-pointer by Mike Miller and two free throws and a tip-in by Battier capped a 10-0 run, giving Memphis an 87-79 lead with 1:31 left. Orlando never got closer the rest of the way.
“It wasn’t a very pretty game up until the last five minutes,” Battier said. “We really willed the victory. Guys made huge shots and then just huge plays. In a game like that, when it is kind of ugly, that’s often the difference.”
Memphis led by as many as 11 in the first half, but Nelson and Hill keyed a second-quarter Magic rally, tying the game 42-all at halftime. Hill had 14 points, and Nelson hit his first five shots from the field for 11 points.
“We defended really well in the first quarter and didn’t play well in the second quarter,” Memphis coach Mike Fratello said.
Jason Williams and Swift had nine points each in the first half, but Memphis couldn’t take advantage of a 20-10 margin in the paint for the half, an advantage that ended up 40-20 in the Grizzlies’ favor for the night.
“We gave up 40 points in the paint, and that’s way too many, especially without Pau Gasol,” Magic coach Johnny Davis said.
Battier said it’s now a matter of the rest of the Grizzlies filling the void left by Gasol’s absence, not only on the offensive end, but on the boards and in the middle. Gasol is expected to miss about two weeks.
“Like so many times before, when someone goes down on our team, we have to say, all right, let’s do this collectively,” Battier said. “Everyone has to step up and play well in Pau’s absence.”
Don Poier, the Grizzlies’ late play-by-play announcer, was honored with a moment of silence before the game and a video tribute at the end of the first quarter. Poier, 53, died Friday while the Grizzlies were on the road in Denver. He had been the team’s only announcer since the then-Vancouver Grizzlies entered the NBA in 1995. … Swift started in Gasol’s spot. … Hill, who has been nursing a bruised right wrist, played 39 minutes. The only game in the last six Hill has not played at least 30 minutes was when he sat out Saturday’s game against Philadelphia. … Nelson’s 17 points was two short of his season high. … Orlando was 19-4 when holding a lead entering the fourth period. … There were 14 lead changes and 12 ties in the game.