Tyreke Evans scored a season-high 32 points, but the Memphis Grizzlies could not complete a late rally and fell 101-99 to the Orlando Magic in a matchup between two teams that entered with the best record in the NBA.
Evan Fournier totaled 22 points and eight rebounds, while Aaron Gordon posted 19 points and connected on a go-ahead three-pointer that gave Orlando a 100-99 lead with 51.7 seconds remaining in the game.
Marc Gasol, listed as questionable pregame with a left ankle injury, scored 22 points and lifted Memphis with two straight baskets that gave the Grizzlies a 99-97 lead with 1:04 remaining in the fourth. James Ennis III added 14 points, while Dillon Brooks chipped in with 12 off the bench. Mario Chalmers scored seven points starting in place of Mike Conley, who missed his first game of the season with a sore left Achilles.
Evans recorded his highest scoring effort since scoring 34 for the New Orleans Pelicans on Dec. 14, 2014 vs. Golden State. He became just the eighth Grizzlies reserve to put up 30 points in a game and the first since Troy Daniels on Dec. 3, 2016.
Trailing by six entering the fourth quarter, Memphis closed the gap as Evans made all five of his shot attempts in the period. Brooks sparked a 7-0 run with a three-pointer before a fadeaway and a floater by Gasol gave Memphis the lead. After Gordon’s go-ahead three put Orlando back in front, Chalmers and Brooks missed long jumpers, and while Memphis continued to force Orlando into turnovers, the Magic ran off enough time late for its fifth win in the last six games.
After Memphis limited opponents to 39.9 percent shooting through its first seven games, the best field goal percentage defense in the NBA, Orlando shot 50.7 percent from the field and 44.8 percent from three-point range. The Magic’s shooting helped the team overcome 24 turnovers, which the Grizzlies converted into 30 points.
The Grizzlies will hit the road after completing their four-game home stand when they travel to Los Angeles and face the Clippers on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Tune in to FOX Sports Tennessee or listen on WMFS for all the action.
Next Home Game
Memphis will return to FedExForum on Wednesday, Nov. 15 as they take on the Indiana Pacers at 7 p.m.
Key Stats of the Night
- Orlando shot 50.7 percent from the field (38-75 FG) and 44.8 percent from three-point range (13-29 3P). Entering tonight, Memphis had held its first seven opponents to a combined 39.9 percent overall shooting, the best field goal percentage defense in the league.
- The Magic won despite 24 turnovers, which the Grizzlies turned into 30 points. The last team to commit that many turnovers against the Grizzlies and still win in Memphis was the Denver Nuggets, who gave the ball away 27 times on January 27, 2009 but still came away with a 100-85 victory at FedExForum.
Key Runs of the Night
- Orlando opened up a 20-9 lead to start the game before Memphis closed the first quarter on a 17-3 run to take a 26-23 lead entering the second period. The Grizzlies started the second frame with seven straight points to complete a 24-3 run and build a double-digit advantage (33-23).
- Both teams held an 11-point lead in the first half before ending up tied at 54 at halftime.
- Marc Gasol sank two straight baskets to give Memphis a 99-97 lead with 1:04 remaining, but Aaron Gordon reclaimed the lead for the Magic with a step-back three-pointer with 51.7 seconds on the clock. Memphis would miss two long-range jumpers in the closing seconds to seal the win for Orlando.
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On the team’s shot selection at the end of the game
Yeah [I was happy with those shots], but we didn’t deserve to win the game…You cannot mess with the basketball gods. I deeply believe in that. Our huddles were a joke tonight. Our communication was ridiculous. No one owned anything tonight. The most frustrating part about it was, that’s a game we had in our grips. But we have got to go through this together. You have got to go through some adversity, and unfortunately for us, the three times we’ve been hit with adversity, we’ve handled it like crap. At least I have something I can address and attack and teach and coach. With all of that being said, I thought Marc [Gasol] tonight, just from a leadership standpoint [was] keeping us in the moment, keeping our huddles as good as they could possibly be under the circumstances. He was phenomenal tonight from that standpoint. We just had too much chaos going on within our interactions.
On his confidence in Dillon Brooks’ ability
They were great shots [that Brooks was taking]. I wouldn’t trade any of those. Those were great looks. I thought he competed really well. I like him. He’s a tough kid, he knows how to play, he knows how to win. He’s a guy that, like I said, hit four or five of those [big shots] in college, so I was like ‘Yeah, the ball found the right guy.’ I would have taken the win, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t feel like the way we behaved as a team tonight, with each other and with the game, we didn’t deserve to win.
On Tyreke Evans’ play tonight
He’s a player, man, and I think he likes it when the lights are on. Obviously, I feel very comfortable putting the ball in his hands and letting him go make plays for us. He and I spent a lot of time together talking about the responsibilities that come with that. The part that I was actually most happy with is that he’s really taking pride defensively [in his game] while doing this. No one’s ever looked at him as a guy that’s a deep defender or anything like that, but since he’s been here he’s really taken it to heart to be a good, solid defender for us.
On how tough it is to have a double digit lead but can’t close out
It was definitely tough because we were playing hard on the defensive end. We’ve just got to be more consistent, just pull it out and put all four quarters together, and we didn’t do that tonight.
On letting the game get away
You need to be a little more concentrated. There were too many mental mistakes at the end. I mean we had plenty of chances. We couldn’t have asked for more chances to win it, and hopefully we’ll learn from it.
On the effort and intensity
I’m more worried about concentration. I think the effort is there. I think guys are playing hard. But what we always talk about is there’s always going to be five guys playing basketball at the same time. Especially at this level, we need everybody at every possession. Especially with the kind of team that we have, it can’t be any other way. Guys need to understand their roles, expect things, know players’ tendencies, and know what their plays are designed for and our schemes defensively. Hopefully we’ll get it. This is the NBA. People aren’t going to feel bad for you or sorry for you. Winning is really hard – consistently is even harder. Losing is easy. It takes no effort, no concentration or being selfish. Those are all bad habits that we can’t allow and promote.
On the toughness of players playing in so many roles due to injury
I think that’s an opportunity for a lot of the guys, and I think that they should take advantage of that in the right way. When you have an opportunity to do more or show what you can do, it’s your chance to prove that you’re worth playing more minutes. You’ve got to do your role first in order to ask for more. You cannot ask for more before you’re doing your job every night. It’s like when you turn 18, and you want your own apartment and your freedom, but you don’t want to do the dishes. There’s a lot of responsibilities that come with having your own place. You have to take care of it and you have to do all the little things that people don’t like to do. But you’ve still got to do it because no one else is going to do it. People can have freedom, but they’ve still got to do their job.
- Tyreke Evans scored a season-high 32 points (13-20 FG, 4-6 3P, 2-3 FT) one game after recording 19 points and 10 rebounds on Oct. 30 vs. Charlotte. Evans, who made seven of his first eight shots and had 18 before halftime, posted his highest single-game scoring total since totaling 34 points on Dec. 14, 2014 vs. Golden State as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans.
- Tyreke Evans is just the eighth Grizzlies reserve to score 30 points in a game and the first since Troy Daniels on December 3, 2016.
- Evan Fournier led the Magic with 22 points (9-16 FG, 4-7 3P) and eight rebounds. Fournier has scored 20-or-more points in seven of his eight games this season.
- Marc Gasol scored 22 points (10-14 FG, 2-4 3P, 0-1 FT), his fifth 20-point game of the season.