The Orlando Magic entered their game Friday night against the Memphis Grizzlies as overwhelming long shots, and the Magic knew it.
Their deals before the NBA trade deadline left them with just eight players in uniform — just seven players if you subtracted Al Harrington, who hasn’t played all season. Against the physical Grizzlies, one of the Western Conference’s best teams, eight players typically won’t do.
The end result, an 88-82 Orlando loss at FedEx Forum, was predictable. But the Magic’s narrow margin of defeat — they trailed by only three points with 4:05 left — defied the odds. After it ended, Orlando players framed their performance as a moral victory and said they could use it as a springboard the rest of the season.
“I will never enjoy losing, period,” shooting guard Arron Afflalo said.
“But I do enjoy growing, and tonight I felt like the seven guys, and even Al and his communication and Jameer [Nelson] being around, we grew tonight.”
Afflalo sensed better focus from the younger players.
He also saw some grit. The Magic trailed by 16 points early in the fourth quarter, whittled down the deficit a bit before center Nik Vucevic fouled out with about eight minutes to go. Even without Vucevic, they closed to within three points on a breakaway dunk by Maurice Harkless with 5:20 left in the fourth quarter.
A short while later, a potential game-tying 3 by point guard E’Twaun Moore rattled in-and-out.
Then, power forward Andrew Nicholson fouled out.
Vaughn turned to athletic trainer Keon Weise and asked, “Who else is available? How many we got left?”
Shorthanded Orlando Magic lose to the Memphis Grizzlies 88-82
Orlando Sentinel | Feb 23