Despite late mistakes, Magic hold off Grizzlies
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It was a game somebody had to win.
From a philosophical point of view, Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale believed it turned out as it was supposed to with his team on the short end of a 101-99 decision to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night at FedExForum.
“We didn’t deserve to win the game,” said Fizdale, who got into it with point guard Mario Chalmers late in the fourth quarter after Chalmers made a bad pass, lost the ball trying to get fouled while driving in for a layup, and missed a 3-pointer — all in the last 50 seconds. “You can’t mess with the basketball gods.”
And yet the Magic were fortunate, too. They committed 24 turnovers that became 30 Memphis points.
Aaron Gordon (19 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals) knocked down a wide-open corner 3-pointer with 51 seconds left to give the Magic a 100-99 lead. Orlando tried hard to give it back.
Terrence Ross (15 points) committed two turnovers in the last 26 seconds, and the Grizzlies had two good looks from 3-point range, the last from rookie Dillion Brooks (12 points, four rebounds) rimming out with just seconds left. Ross got the rebound and made one of two free throws to complete the scoring.
“I thought tonight we won defensively because we fought,” said Evan Fournier, who led Orlando with 22 points and eight rebounds. “I don’t care how we win as long as we win.”
Memphis (5-3) got 32 points, four assists and two steals from reserve guard Tyreke Evans. Center Marc Gasol finished with 22 points and nine rebounds.
Gasol said the Grizzlies “had too many mental mistakes at the end.”
“We had plenty of chances,” he added.
The chance Gasol didn’t get: to make a play in the final few seconds.
Asked about Brooks’ shot, Gasol said: “Hoping (it would fall). I was hoping to get the ball, but he was really open.”
Grizzles starting point guard Mike Conley rested Wednesday due to a sore Achilles.
That left the veteran Chalmers, who was with the Miami Heat when Fizdale was an assistant there, to run the team. He made just 3 of 12 shots from the floor, went 1 of 4 from long distance and had five assists and four steals.
He didn’t dispute Fizdale’s claim that he was out of control at the end of the fourth quarter when he drove and tried to draw a foul and lost the ball, with Fizdale calling it a “bonehead play.”
Said Chalmers: “I filled in for Mike, I gotta be the person to take control like Mike takes control and run the team, and I didn’t do that tonight. I feel like I lost the game for us.”
The Magic (6-2) carried an 81-75 lead into the fourth quarter, and it remained a two-possession game or less for the entire fourth quarter. Fournier got the assist on Gordon’s game-winning shot.
“After my screen, I had two guys on me,” Fournier said. “Marc Gasol stepped up, so Aaron Gordon was empty in the corner. It was an easy play to make, and it was a big-time shot for us.”
Overall, the Magic shot 50.7 percent from the floor and went 13 of 29 from 3-point range, 44.8 percent. Memphis shot 47.6 percent from the field while going 10 of 30 from distance.
The Memphis bench only went four deep Wednesday night, but the Grizzlies’ reserves outscored Orlando’s bench 47-33. Memphis also got 14 points from starting forward James Ennis.
The Magic’s Shelvin Mack finished with nine points and a game-high eight assists.
Each team led by as many as 11 points in the first half. The game was tied 54-54 at the break.
“The biggest thing I see is when we get a lead, we get very casual,” Fizdale said.
The Magic’s hot start really wasn’t on anyone’s radar. Orlando is undefeated at home (3-0) and with this victory is now 3-2 on the road.
“It’s still early,” Gordon said. “Still a new team, still figuring each other out.”
NOTES: Memphis PG Mike Conley did not play to rest a sore Achilles before starting a five-game road trip. “Early in the season, no need to push something like that,” coach David Fizdale said. ... Orlando entered the game ranked 30th in the NBA in points allowed in the paint. “A lot of times that’s indicative of pace more than percentage,” coach Frank Vogel said. “But it’s still too many.” ... Grizzlies F JaMychal Green (ankle) is about two weeks from playing. G Wayne Selden (quad) has been labeled day-to-day, and G Ben McLemore (foot) is going to rehab with the G League Memphis Hustle. ... Magic G Elfrid Payton missed his sixth consecutive game with a strained hamstring.