The high-scoring Orlando Magic are one of the biggest surprises of the first two weeks and will try to clinch a winning three-game road trip when they visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. The Magic are second in the NBA at an average of 116.9 points while the Grizzlies entered play on Tuesday third in the NBA in points allowed, surrendering an average of 95.6.
Orlando had a three-game winning streak come to an end in the opener of the trip with a 120-113 loss at Charlotte but bounced back by dominating the fourth quarter and pulling out a 115-99 triumph at New Orleans on Monday. “We worked hard and we challenged them at halftime,” Magic coach Frank Vogel told reporters. “We know that we’re doing some really special things on the offensive end and that all feels good, but it’s not going to result in wins if we don’t buckle down on defense.” Memphis squandered a 13-point fourth-quarter lead in a 104-99 home loss to Charlotte on Monday that marked a season high in points allowed. “Defensively, we just had some air head mistakes that we normally haven’t been making where we gave up 3s, didn’t stop the ball twice on the weak side,” Grizzlies coach David Fizdale told reporters. “We got sucked in on stuff that we normally don’t get sucked in on and gave up 3s on the weak side. Frustrating, but we’ll get into the film and we’ll learn from it.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FS Florida (Orlando), FS Southeast (Memphis)
ABOUT THE MAGIC (5-2): Orlando is being led by the frontcourt trio of Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier, who are averaging a combined 63.7 points, but they needed some help off the bench on Monday from reserve Marreese Speights. The veteran, who totaled six minutes in the previous three games, played 22 on Monday and knocked down six 3-pointers en route to 18 points. “I’m mentally prepared on the bench and it doesn’t matter if I’m going to play or not, I’ll always be locked in on the game, know what’s going on and know how the (opposing) big guys are playing,” Speights told the team’s website. “Then, when I get into the game, I’m already loaded and ready. But that comes from being locked in and mentally prepared on the bench.”
ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES (5-2): Memphis point guard Mike Conley is battling a sore left Achilles and is struggling with his shot, shooting 36.8 percent from the floor and 26.1 percent from 3-point range after a 4-of-18 effort in Monday’s setback. “I don’t think it’s anything systematically we have to do, I just think he’ll settle in and those shots will start falling for him,” Fizdale told reporters of Conley. “He’s even uncharacteristically missing some free throws right now that he normally makes, but it’s a long season. I’m not worried about Mike at all. I’ll take those shots every day of the week, and I know that once we move a little more into the season, he’s going to start hitting those.” Conley, who is 0-of-10 from 3-point range in the last two games, is considered day-to-day.
1. Orlando SF Jonathon Simmons is 24-of-40 from the field in the last three games.
2. Memphis exercised its fourth-year contract option on F Jarell Martin on Tuesday.
3. The teams split the two meetings last season, with each winning on its own home floor.
PREDICTION: Magic 109, Grizzlies 101