Magic 116, Grizzlies 89
Orlando, looking for its first playoff berth in four years, jumped out to a 22-point lead in the first eight minutes of the game and coasted to a 116-89 victory over the Grizzlies on Saturday night.
The Magic, who are only 8-14 since the All-Star break, got 31 points and 11 rebounds from Dwight Howard and 15 points apiece from Hedo Turkoglu and Grant Hill in breaking a two-game losing streak and remaining a game ahead of Indiana for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“It was nice to have a game like this for a change,” said Magic coach Brian Hill, whose team had lost twice in overtime and once in the final seconds of regulation in its last four games. “Memphis was undermanned, but it was still the type of play we needed from our guys. We were aggressive defensively, ran very well off our defense and did a good job of getting the ball inside to Dwight.”
Orlando’s starting five was a combined 25-of-32 from the field and none had to play in the fourth quarter. Howard, who was 10-of-13, was the only starter to miss more than one shot from the field. However, nine of his 10 field goals were dunks, symbolic of how easy a night it was for Orlando. The Magic had 14 dunks as a team.
“We came out with a conscious effort to dominate this game and I think we did a really good job,”? said Howard, who had struggled offensively the last five games.
Added Grant Hill: “Dwight needed a game where he could see the ball go through the basket and dominate a game. This should help him get his confidence back.”
The Grizzlies, who have the worst record in the NBA, were without injured starters Damon Stoudamire, Mike Miller and Rudy Gay. Their replacements, Tarence Kinsey, Stromile Swift and Junior Harrington, combined for 22 points on 8-of-24 shooting.
“This is the NBA, there isn’t anyone out there who is going to feel sorry for us,” said backup point guard Chucky Atkins, who led Memphis with 18 points and five assists. “Everybody plays undermanned all the time and it’s our time. We have to keep working to improve.”
Howard raised his league-leading total to 232 dunks this season. … All 12 Magic players in uniform scored. … Kinsey had his ninth straight game in double figures. … Orlando is shooting 51 percent in its last four games.