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From Press Row: Grizzlies vs. Magic

Covering the Grizzlies on the road

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Orlando Magic Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

(Site Manager’s Note: Our Justin Lewis has the opportunity this past weekend to cover the Memphis Grizzlies vs. Orlando Magic game in Florida. Here is his dispatch from Orlando.)

The Orlando Magic are currently sitting in ninth place, a game behind the Miami Heat for the final playoff spot. The Memphis Grizzlies are well out of the playoffs and have much less to play for.

The difference between the Grizzlies and other teams that are lottery bound is that Memphis is still playing with a purpose, attempting to convey their pick to Boston this season.

The Magic certainly had this game circled as a must win in their quest for the postseason. The home crowd was loud and attentive all night long, also expecting a win against the lowly Grizzlies.

Tyler Dorsey and Chandler Parsons had this game circled as well. For Chandler it was coming home to Florida playing in front of family of friends whom he spent much of his pregame time with. For Dorsey, it might've only been circled for a few hours but after being dumped by the Hawks for absolutely nothing, he was getting a chance to start for the first time for the Grizz.

It was a lively night inside Amway Arena in Orlando as the Magic were celebrating Latin Night. The in-house DJ was pumping in the pregame music while both teams began their prep.

The scouts and media member took their seats on press row and the game tipped off. It was the typical scouting your upcoming opponent trips for many of them, others were there for potential playoff match-ups but none of them came to the arena expecting to see some career performances.

Tyler Dorsey averaged 7 points and 1.4 assists in 56 games of his rookie season for the Atlanta Hawks. He went from being given away at the Trade Deadline to getting a chance to start in the NBA again.

Coming into this start, Dorsey had yet to go over 9 points for Memphis. His playing time was sparse due to the presence of Avery Bradley and C.J. Miles but there always seemed to be a spark when he was on the floor.

Another player blocking Dorsey’s path to the floor was Chandler Parsons, Dorsey’s torch carrying partner this night.

It’s crazy that people were raving over an 11 point performance from a $25 million dollar player, but that is just where we are. Parsons has been betrayed by his body and it no fault of his own.

It was almost exactly three years ago the last time that Chandler Parsons played three scheduled games in a row for 20+ minutes AND scored double digits. Heading into Orlando he had a chance to break that three year drought.

I would imagine if any of the scouts were in attendance to preview the Grizzlies, they might be taking a look at what Dorsey can do and how the Grizzlies might use him without Miles and Bradley being available, but I would also imagine no one was expecting to pay any attention to Parsons.

Dorsey came out of the gates in a different zone than everyone else, starting the scoring off for the game and never looking back. As Dorsey continued to score, the scouts and media members began to take notice.

“Atlanta trade him for what?”

“Did Memphis get a steal?”

Just a few of the comments being uttered about the young Oregon Duck. It then became stat watch for Tyler as we began to look up his career high numbers and keep track, waiting on him to surpass them.

Dorsey proceeded to set his career highs in points (29, 22 previous), assists (9,7) and 3 pointers made (5,4). His performance even led to the decision of JB (whether right or wrong) to draw up the final play for Memphis to get Dorsey a look at a mid range jumper to win it. Everyone in Amway knew who was about to get the ball on this night.

While he wasn't setting career highs, there was actually more buzz about Parsons.

When Parsons did this, not only did Twitter erupt, but the Memphis fans at the game, his Grizzlies teammates and, yes the scouts, all reacted as well. One of the scouts said, “That was most amazing thing I have seen all season.” Obviously being sarcastic, but was still impressed that Parsons still had it in him.

As the first half wore on and Parsons continued to knocked down shots and make plays, the scouts kept laughing in disbelief and saying “Why not?”

His shot-making did come down to earth in the second half, but one other Grizzly player did set a career high himself.

Jonas Valanciunas joined Tyler Dorsey in the career night category, but also set a franchise record.

JV ended the night with 24 rebounds and a franchise best 23 defensive rebounds. His 24 rebounds was good for second most in franchise history behind Lorenzen Wright’s 26. While the scouts and media shook their heads after every bully basket and rebound, he somehow was not the talk of the night.

The Memphis Grizzlies may have actually found a rotation player in Tyler Dorsey and Chandler Parsons might actually be able to help this team in their goals to convey unexpectedly — And both of those things are something worth talking about.

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