Grizzlies aim to rebound in two-game series against Magic

NBA

All of the Memphis Grizzlies’ excitement after beating potential play-in tournament opponent Portland twice last week faded during a 130-109 blowout loss at home to the Blazers on Wednesday night.

The Grizzlies (31-30) lost their second in a row and will look to regroup when they host the Orlando Magic on Friday night in Memphis in the first of a home-and-home set on back-to-back nights.

Despite 19 points from Jonas Valanciunas and 18 from Dillon Brooks, the Grizzlies were buried early and trailed by as many as 33 points in the first half. Ja Morant struggled from the field shooting 3-for-11 and scoring only 10 points while Jaren Jackson Jr. went 2-for-10 from 3-point range, 4-for-15 overall and finished with 13 points.

Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins didn’t seem concerned about the performance.

“If you look at the two (Portland wins) before these last two, we played extremely well,” Jenkins said. “These aren’t reflective of what we’ve been able to accomplish this season. We’re in a great spot, 31-30. If anyone is raising alarms, or concerns, I don’t know what y’all are watching.”

With 11 regular-season games remaining, Memphis is tied with the San Antonio Spurs for the eighth seed in the Western Conference and 2 1/2 games behind Portland for the seventh seed — the top spot in the play-in round and three games behind the Dallas Mavericks for the sixth and final automatic playoff berth.

“We’re not in panic mode because we’ve been here before,” Memphis forward Brandon Clarke said.

The Magic (19-43) snapped a six-game losing streak with a 109-104 road win against the Cavaliers on Wednesday.

Orlando blew a 23-point lead in the fourth quarter after being outscored 41-18 over a 9-minute, 39-second span. Rookie Cole Anthony saved the Magic with a layup with 45 seconds remaining and then a pair of free throws following a Cleveland turnover.

“In order to make the right play, I felt like I had to have the ball in my hands, to be honest,” said Anthony, the 15th pick in last year’s NBA draft out of the University of North Carolina. “My job as a point guard is to make things happen for my team the best way I can.”

Anthony scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, and is averaging 14.7 points, 5.5 assists and 4.6 rebounds while shooting 45.1 percent from the field over his past 10 games.

“Cole is a gamer who wants the moment, he wants the ball in his hands,” said Gary Harris, who had 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds against Cleveland. “He’s going to be a very good player for a long time in this league.”

James Ennis III returned and started at small forward for Orlando after missing the previous five games with a sore right calf. Orlando’s Chuma Okeke is out with a sprained left ankle.

Orlando coach Steve Clifford remained away from the team due to health and safety protocols, and Tyrone Corbin continued to serve as head coach. Corbin said he didn’t have a timetable for when c Jr. (left foot), who has been out since April 3, might return. Terrence Ross is listed as doubtful with back spasms.

Devin Cannady (right ankle open fracture), Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle sprain), Markelle Fultz (torn left ACL) and Jonathan Isaac (left knee) remain out.

For Memphis, Grayson Allen left the game against Portland in the first quarter with a left-hand injury but returned in the second quarter.

–Field Level Media

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