Allen’s defense helps Grizzlies edge Magic
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- With 6:12 remaining in the fourth quarter Thursday, the Orlando Magic had a 14-point lead following a three-point play by forward Jeff Green. They were rolling.
Then Memphis Grizzlies swingman Tony Allen, a frequent visitor to the NBA’s All-Defensive Team, re-entered the game. He brought his trademark chaos with him and fueled a 13-0 run that ultimately carried the Grizzlies to a 95-94 victory Thursday night at FedExForum.
The winning points came with 12.2 second left when Marc Gasol hit two foul shots.
Gasol had the prettier stat line with 25 points, five blocks and three assists. However, while scoring and rim-protecting are Gasol’s responsibility, Allen’s first duty is disruption all over the floor on the defensive end.
“That’s his job, and he’s very good at it,” Gasol said.
Magic coach Frank Vogel said, “Tony Allen, credit his energy. He was able to cool down Jeff Green, who was red hot for a while (he scored 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter). He just made a lot of hustle plays that turned the game around.”
The Magic (7-12) had a chance to win the game, but they couldn’t find a shot in their last possession. The sequence ended with a bad pass by Elfrid Payton that was stolen by JaMychal Green (eight points, seven rebounds, three assists) as time ran out.
Guard Evan Fournier led the Magic with 28 points and handed out four assists. Allen’s job on the last possession: Don’t let Fournier get the ball and a clean look.
“Obviously, he got away from me a little bit,” said Allen, who finished with nine points, six rebounds and three steals. “Right now, I‘m not at first-team All-Defensive form, but I‘m fighting to get back there. Give me six more games.”
It was Fournier who stopped the Grizzlies’ 13-0 run in the fourth quarter when he hit a 3-pointer to hike the Magic’s lead back to 88-84 with 3:04 to play. He said on the last possession he just didn’t have enough to room to even attempt a shot.
“Defense was on me a lot,” Fournier said, “so I had to kick it out.”
The Magic hurt themselves with turnovers -- 18 on the night compared to 15 assists. Allen played a role even when the steal wasn’t his.
“You can’t be soft with the basketball,” Jeff Green said. “You have to make sure you’re still aggressive.”
Nikola Vucevic provided the Magic with 18 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks off the bench, and Serge Ibaka contributed 11 points and eight rebounds.
Troy Daniels came off the bench to score 19 points for Memphis (12-8). Point guard Andrew Harrison chipped in 11 points with a game-best eight assists.
Daniels hit 3 of 5 3-point attempts after knocking down 4 of 8 Wednesday night at Toronto. Grizzlies coach David Fizdale’s advice to Daniels even before then, when he was struggling: You still have the green light.
“It’s money green,” Daniels said. “Coach calls it money green.”
For the game, Orlando shot 44.6 from the field and hit 6 of 24 from 3-point range (25 percent). The Grizzlies shot 41.8 percent from the floor and made 7 of 18 shots from long distance (38.9 percent).
For the Grizzlies, it felt like a game they easily could have lost.
“We stayed in the moment,” Gasol said.
And for the Magic, it was one that got away.
“Forget it, plain and simple,” Jeff Green said. “That’s the great thing about the NBA. You lose a heartbreaker, but tomorrow you have a chance to redeem yourself.”
NOTES: The Grizzlies’ injures are piling up to the point that the team again had only nine available players Thursday night. “It’s the nasty nine again,” said Memphis coach David Fizdale. ... Among the missing for Memphis: PG Mike Conley (lower back), F Chandler Parsons (knee), PF Zach Randolph (personal), F James Ennis (calf), and F Vince Carter (hip). ... The Magic were on the first night of a back-to-back, with a game in Philadelphia on Friday. Orlando coach Frank Vogel believes the NBA needs to tweak scheduling. “I’ve never been a fan of time-change back-to-backs where you lose an hour,” he said. “Or where the second night is a Sunday and it’s a 6 o’clock game. Same type of concept.” ... Orlando F Serge Ibaka came in ranked fifth in 3-point shooting at 45.3 percent. He made just four of 10 attempts and scored 11 points Thursday.