Magic’s Comeback Attempt Falls Short in Loss to Grizzlies

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The Lead

Franz Wagner racked up 25 points, Paolo Banchero scored 24 and Goga Bitadze had 13, his most since joining the Magic, but despite rallying back from 23 down, Orlando came up just a bit short in Tuesday’s 113-108 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum.

Clutch Moments

The Magic refused to go away quietly. Franz Wagner made three shots in the final 1:10, including a pair of 3-pointers that cut the deficit down to three each time. Markelle Fultz also made a huge play when he stole the ball from Tyus Jones and raced the other way for a layup with 38 seconds left. Desmond Bane made seven free throws in the final 37 seconds. 

Key Stretch

After the Magic cut their 23-point first-half deficit down to seven early in the fourth, the Grizzlies reclaimed momentum with a 10-2 run. Bane made four free throws in that span; Luke Kennard drilled a mid-range jumper; Bane followed with a triple; and Xavier Tillman completed the run with a layup. 

Key Stats

Memphis outscored Orlando 54-36 in the paint and 20-6 in fast break points – categories they rank first and third in, respectively, this season. The Magic took a season-most 49 3-point attempts, but made just 14 of them (28.9 percent).  

Injury/Inactive Report

Kevon Harris (left elbow bruise) and Jonathan Isaac (left adductor surgery) were out for the Magic. Ja Morant (right thigh soreness), Steven Adams (right knee; PCL sprain), Brandon Clarke (left Achilles tear), Jake LaRavia (G League – On Assignment), Vince Williams Jr. (right shoulder soreness), and Ziaire Williams (right foot/ankle soreness) were unavailable for the Grizzlies. 

Quote of the Day

“Knowing when and where to use hands. Obviously, full court, you can be a little bit more handsy. As guys start to get into the paint, they penetrate; you want to make sure you put your hands up. I know I scream it a lot on the sideline for these guys to understand as soon as they break playing at that three-point line, you want your hands to go up, so you don’t give the referees a reason to call the foul.” – Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley on defending without fouling

This Day in History

On March 28, 2001, Tracy McGrady connected on a go-ahead shot with 2.7 seconds left to lift to the Magic to a victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. Allen Iverson, who put Philly ahead on the prior possession with an AND-1 jumper with 7.6 ticks remaining, missed a potential game-winning shot from near half court at the buzzer. T-Mac finished with 44 points, while Iverson scored 37. 

Rivals Report

Among the teams currently in the top eight in the Western Conference standings, the Grizzlies and Suns are the only ones that have a top 10 defensive rating. That’s quite significant considering nearly all NBA champions over the last 30-plus years were elite defensively. Jaren Jackson Jr., the NBA leader in blocks per game this season, is looking to become just the sixth player since 2000 to average at least three blocks with at least 50 games played. 

Up Next

The Magic wrap up their month of March with a showdown against the Washington Wizards in the nation’s capital on Friday at 7 p.m. This will be the fourth and final meeting between the Southeast Division rivals this season, with the Wizards winning the first two and the Magic prevailing in the most recent one on March 21 at Amway Center behind 22 points from Gary Harris, 20 from Franz Wagner and 18 from Banchero. Kristaps Porzingis led Washington with 30 points.

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