Grizzlies hang on to defeat Magic

Don Wade, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Memphis Grizzlies were cruising. They led by as many as 23 points in the first half and by as many as 16 early in the fourth quarter over an Orlando Magic team that had won one road game all season and was on the second night of a back-to-back.
And then, at the last moment, the Magic (6-15) made a run. With 2:07 left in the game, Orlando center Glen Davis scored on a put-back layup to cut the lead to four. Given that the Grizzlies (10-10) had lost four of their last five home games, point guard Mike Conley couldn't help hitting the rewind button.
"Not again, we can't lose at home," he said of what went through his mind before the Grizzlies pushed through for a 94-85 win Monday night at the FedExForum. "It seemed like it was all but wrapped up. But guys kept their cool."
Or in the case of power forward Zach Randolph, who had a team-high 19 points with 12 rebounds, turned up the heat. Randolph scored six fourth-quarter points and made a driving layup past Davis to hike the lead back up to seven points with 1:14 to play.
"Big Baby, big body," Randolph said of Davis. "I was just being aggressive -- go fast, go strong."
Beyond Randolph, forward Jon Leuer contributed 16 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, Conley scored 13 with seven assists, and guard Jerryd Bayless had 11 points. Normally one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the NBA, Memphis shot 58.8 percent (10 of 17) behind the arc. It was the first time this season the Grizzlies made more 3-pointers than their opponent (10-6).
This was Orlando's sixth straight loss and its road record dropped to 1-10. The Magic are on the fifth game of a six-game trip.
"I'll never get used to losing," Magic guard Arron Afflalo said. "One of the only things that keeps you motivated now is knowing we're only a quarter of the way done."
All five Orlando starters scored in double figures, led by forward Andrew Nicholson and guard Jameer Nelson, who had 19 points each; Nicholson also had 11 rebounds. Afflalo scored 17, Davis had 16, and guard Victor Oladipo finished with 10.
The Magic failed to get even one offensive rebound through the first two quarters. The Grizzlies led 51-30 at halftime. For the game, the Grizzlies beat the Magic on the boards 52-35 and in the paint 40-24. Memphis also had a 20-7 edge on second-chance points.
"It's tough to get going when you only score 30 points in a half," Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said. "We answered in the third quarter and put up some resistance. Defensively, we changed our scheme a little bit. We played guys that could guard multiple positions. We switched a little bit. We were fighting and clawing to try and produce something in our favor."
The Grizzlies were fighting and clawing, too; they had only nine players available Monday night due to injuries.
"We have guys out and that hurts," said Leuer, who has scored at least 15 points in three of the last four games, including a career-high 23 in a Dec. 3 victory over the Phoenix Suns. "But that presents opportunity for other guys."
Memphis coach Dave Joerger also would like Leuer to continue looking for scoring opportunities.
"With Jon, I not only want him shooting the basketball (seven of 14 against the Magic), I want him to attack closeouts," Joerger said.
With Oklahoma City coming in on Wednesday, the Grizzlies now have a chance to finish this six-game homestand at 3-3. But only because they held on Monday night.
"It was a huge win," Conley said.
NOTES: All indications are that Memphis G/F Quincy Pondexter is done for the season due to a stress fracture in his right foot. Pondexter met with reporters before Monday night's game and said a decision on surgery was not made yet. "I have to be smart about this," he said. "I'm still a young guy, only 25, and I have a lot of basketball ahead of me." Pondexter was averaging 6.7 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists. ... Orlando made at least one 3-point field goal in 513 straight games. The streak dates back to March 17, 2007. The Magic hit 10 or more 3-pointers five times this season. ... The Magic are one of four NBA teams with just one road win. The Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz are the others. ... Memphis PF Zach Randolph recorded a double-double in nine of his past 13 games.

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