A fifth consecutive victory for Memphis was secured in Orlando even though Taylor Jenkins’ troops avoided a final that was a little more tense than expected.
Ja Morant didn’t miss an opportunity to put his team on the right track by attacking the game with two acrobatic finishes near the circle. Jaren Jackson Jr also brought his rock to the building, first with three big blocks, then by imitating Tyus Jones and David Roddy on 3-pointers, but with 3 + 1 to start the second quarter (20-26) .
Released, the Grizzlies confirmed the move with a 14-2 run fueled by the explosions of Ziaire Williams (31-47). Ja Morant regained control of the game to remind how dominant he is, scoring or passing, before allowing the Roddy-Konchar duo to lead +22 at the break after a final salvo of 3-pointers (43-65).
Orlando did not disassemble, however, relying in particular on Paolo Banchero, author of 10 points in a row, to try to reduce the score a little (51-68). Problem, Ja Morant answered him with an alley-oop for Jaren Jackson and two “and-ones” before signing two new baskets and keeping the Floridians at a good distance (57-82).
With the help of Terrence Ross, the 11-2 passed by the locals at the end of the third quarter restored a semblance of suspense (78-90). Memphis believed to drive the point home with two new long missiles and a dunk for Ziaire Williams as well as a still aggressive Ja Morant towards the circle (97-114). But that doesn’t count against Franz Wagner’s 19 points on the season! The German revived the suspense almost single-handedly with two 3-point missiles and two baskets in transition that still helped the Floridians down to -6 (114-120)!
After three expensive baskets from Jaren Jackson Jr, Ja Morant sealed the fate of the match from the free throw line to get the win, 123-115.
WHAT YOU SHOULD REMEMBER
– The awakening of Jaren Jackson Jr.. With Ja Morant hatching, as well as Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr. is one of the rare players whose scoring average has consistently dropped over the past two seasons when he’s shooting more than 17 points before his meniscus injury in the Orlando “bubble”. He remembered that night that he could play a more important role on this side of the floor. It should be noted in particular that Memphis relied on him three times (successfully) to respond to the heat stroke of Franz Wagner & co. It was his first game of the season with more than 30 points.
– Grizzlies’ 25th victory. The Grizzlies have a narrow win lead at the same stage in their 2021-22 run. On the other hand, Orlando’s play-in dreams are a little further away after this 25th setback.
✅Chiefs of the Grizzlies. The Morant-Jackson tandem will be unplayable tonight, between the brilliant inspirations of the leader and the unsettling efficiency of the second. Inevitably, these are the two players we’ve seen kill the game.
✅ Leaders of magic. If the Magic’s first half left something to be desired, the sequel was even better, with Paolo Banchero then Franz Wagner ringing the bell in somewhat improbable fashion, with 19 points for the first in the third quarter and… 19 for the second in the fourth! A show that delivered some amazing sequences. Encouragement even if there is no success in the end.
✅ Zaire Williams. His best game since returning from injury, to remind how important he was last season, too. Aggressiveness, skill and spectacle, the perfect performance off the bench for him in just 14 minutes of play.
⛔️ Orlando shooters (except Terrence Ross). Fortunately, Terrence Ross was there to save Orlando’s still-maybe 3-point success percentage. For the rest, aside from the notable passages of the Banchero-Wagner pair and Caleb Houstan’s answered prayer with the board, there’s not much to sink your teeth into, especially on Gary Harris’ side (0/4) , Cole Anthony (0/5) or Jalen Suggs (0/2).
Orlando (14-25): the Magic begin a five-game road trip that begins on the Golden State floor this Saturday (2:30 am).
Memphis (25-13): The Grizzlies will get ready to host Utah this Sunday (midnight).