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Quick Recap: Grizzlies struggle in preseason loss vs. Magic

Despite Desmond Bane’s 33 points, the Grizzlies were unable to withstand the Magic.

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Memphis Grizzlies v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies traveled to Orlando to face the Magic for the 2nd time this preseason, winning the first matchup 109-97. Coach Taylor Jenkins started his projected regular season starting 5 and used this game as a dress rehearsal for the early part of the season. Besides the fact that Ziaire Williams was not active tonight, it was a good chance to see the Grizzlies opening night rotation in full swing.

Unlike many preseason games, both teams played a pretty similar rotation to a regular season game, as 1st overall pick Paolo Banchero played his first home game as a pro. Two young, exciting teams made this a preseason matchup that was really fun to watch.

The Grizzlies started the first quarter slowly, as Paolo Banchero started 3-4 from the floor going into the first TV break. As the first quarter continued, Memphis was unable to close out on the Magic and their shooters were hot from behind the arc. The Grizzlies also struggled to score and shot just 25% from the floor in the 1st quarter compared to 50% from the Magic. Memphis trailed by as much as 18 during the quarter but did have a run near the end, trailing by 14 at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, a second unit led by Tyus Jones steadied the game. When Desmond Bane returned he also began to have his way with the Magic defense, going on a quick 7-0 run of his own to cut the deficit to 7. He scored from behind the arc and also showed his ability to get to the rim and score from the mid range. His play gave the Grizzlies the spark they needed as he almost single-handedly willed them back into the game. He finished the half with 17 points on 6-9 shooting.

Despite the great play from Bane, the Grizzlies still trailed at halftime 54-47. The Grizzlies struggled from the floor shooting just 35% from the floor and 4-15 from behind the arc. Ja Morant also struggled to score as he had 7 points on just 2-11 shooting going into the half. All things considered, it’s surprising that the Grizzlies weren’t down by more than 7 at halftime.

In the 3rd quarter, the Grizzlies got off to a good start thanks to more heroics from Bane, but they still struggled to get stops on the defensive end. The Magic had all 5 starters (Banchero, Terrance Ross, Wendell Carter Jr., Cole Anthony and Franz Wagner) in double figures before the 4th quarter even began. The Grizzlies were not completely out of the game, and made a run at the end of the 3rd. The Magic were in control with a 6 point lead going into the 4th, but the Grizzlies had a good chance to finish the game strong.

The 4th quarter was definitely the best for the Grizzlies as they continued to cut into the Magic’s lead. Their offense looked the best it did all night as Morant began to look more like himself, getting to the rim and the free throw line at will.

With a little under three minutes left in the game, John Konchar hit a corner 3 that tied the game for the first time since the first quarter. However, the Magic got the lead right back on a 3-point play from Wendell Carter Jr. On the next Magic possession, Dillon Brooks forced a travel on Franz Wagner. Bane capitalized with another bucket on the other end giving him 30 for the game.

The back and forth continued down the stretch as two free throws from Ross gave the Magic a 5 point lead with just over 42 second remaining. Morant answered with an incredibly athletic 3-point play, he would finish with 23 points despite a tough shooting night. Wagner would score on a nice step back 3 that essentially put the game out of reach. The Grizzlies did have one last punch at the end of the game with back to back scores from Ja Morant and Desmond Bane, but it was not enough as the Grizzlies fell 109-105.

Memphis Grizzlies v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Quick Takeaways:

Desmond Bane bounces back

The best thing to see from the Grizzlies in this game was the way Bane played. It is awesome to see the way he has improved from a being strictly a spot-up shooter. Tonight he scored at all three levels, attacked in transition, and capitalized on closeouts better than I’ve seen him in the past. If he can continue to develop the rest of his game with his incredible shooting, the sky is the limit for his play this season.

Not enough movement on offense

The Grizzlies have made a name for themselves through their sharing of the ball offensively and fast break points. However, this was not the case tonight. The Grizzlies only assisted on 18 of their 37 made baskets. Last season, they averaged 26 assists on 44 made baskets per game, so it’s clear they are not quite there yet. It seemed like the Grizzlies never got into a rhythm on that end of the floor. The 4th quarter was better for Memphis, but for most of the game it was a struggle on that end.

Struggles on the defensive end

The Grizzlies missed Jaren Jackson Jr. a lot against the Orlando Magic, as they scored 40 points in the paint. They also gave up a ton of open 3s and were lucky that Orlando only shot 12-35 from behind the arc. This has been an issue in the past and without their best defensive player it has been more noticeable than ever. The Grizzlies did do a good job forcing by 21 turnovers, but could only score 17 points off of them.

Improved Free throw shooting

Free throws have plagued Grizzlies teams going back to the Grit and Grind era teams, and it had been a struggle for them this preseason as well. However, they shot 22-27 from the line tonight, and it was the main reason why the Grizzlies were able to stick around for most of the game. So that is a good sign going forward.

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