The Orlando Magic came in to Memphis having won 7 of their last 11 games, looking to extend a 5.5 game lead over the Washington Wizards for the 8th playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Similarly, the Memphis Grizzlies looked to expand their four game lead over New Orleans for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Memphis forced an early Magic timeout, jumping out to a 9-2 lead in the first 1:45 of the game. Jonas Valanciunas asserted himself early and often, going 4-4 from the floor towards a total of 11 1st quarter points. Josh Jackson had himself a quarter as well, including a potential four-point play and this ridiculous inside move for a basket:
Never forget the Suns gave the Grizzlies De’Anthony Melton and picks to take Josh Jackson....— 929ESPN (@929espn) March 11, 2020
THANK YOU, SUNS pic.twitter.com/j6UeFIpH2X
The Grizzlies led by as many as 17 in the 1st but some late threes by the Magic closed the lead to just eight at the end of one.
Orlando kept that momentum rolling, in total running out to a 16-5 advantage to close it to a six-point Grizzly lead, 37-31. Memphis would outscore the Magic 26-19 the rest of the quarter to go up 63-50 at the half.
Valanciunas led all scorers with 15 points and 9 first-half rebounds. He also was a ridiculous plus-21 in the 16 minutes he was on the floor. Josh Jackson chipped in 11 points off the bench and Ja Morant had 12. Memphis held Aaron Gordon scoreless in the half, as well as holding him to a minus-21 in just 11 minutes on the court.
The Magic ramped up the physicality in the 3rd slowing down the Grizzlies on offense and forcing a lot of defensive fouls. Orlando went into the bonus with about 7:30 left in the quarter as they closed it down again to a seven-point lead. The Grizzly lead would get cut down to just three at 74-71 at the midway point before eventually closing to just two. Mo Bamba would tie the game up at 84 with under a minute in the period before a DJ Augustin free throw would put Orlando ahead 85-84.
Josh Jackson would go down the floor and get fouled and have an opportunity for a three point play but missed the and-one to make it a slim 86-85 lead heading into the 4th. Orlando outscored the Grizzlies 35-23 in the 3rd.
Terrence Ross would get fouled on a three and make all three at the line to put Orlando up five at 95-90 just a couple minutes into the 4th. After getting within a single possession multiple times, a three by Augustin put Orlando up 108-101 with just under 5:00 to go. Tyus Jones would drain a corner three to close the Magic lead to 110-108. Ja Morant tied things up momentarily at 112 with a driving layup. With under a minute remaining, Ross would strike again with back-to-back threes to put the Magic up 118-112. Tyus Jones would get fouled attempting a three and make all three free throws en route to getting the ball back for the final possession, with Memphis trailing 118-115. Jones would miss a wide-open three to seal the win for Orlando.
Jonas Valanciunas had a monster game, with 27 points and 16 rebounds for his career-best 33rd double-double of the season. Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks both finished with 21 points each. Free throw percentage killed the Grizzlies, going just 28-38 for the night. Memphis also turned over the ball 20 times while only forcing 15.
Terrence Ross had 24 points, including 18 in the 4th for Orlando, going 5-11 from long-range.
The Grizzlies will hit the road for three-straight games starting their trip on Thursday against one of the teams behind them in the playoff race, the Portland Trail Blazers. Tip is set for 9pm Central from the Moda Center in Portland.