Grizzlies, Magic close out regular season
(Sports Network) - The Memphis Grizzlies will attempt to secure home-court advantage for the opening round of the playoffs when they finish their regular season against the Dwight Howard-less Orlando Magic.
The Grizzlies have finished strongly by winning 13 of 16 overall and 10 straight at home, including a 109-101 win over Cleveland on Monday. Marreese Speights and Marc Gasol led a balanced Memphis attack with 17 points apiece in that one.
Speights also had 10 rebounds, while Rudy Gay added 15 points, O.J. Mayo dropped in 14 and Tony Allen contributed 13 points, eight rebounds and a franchise-record eight steals.
"I thought that in the fourth quarter the group that was in there did an outstanding job, including when I put some of the starters back in the game. I thought we played well," said Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins.
Mike Conley rounded out Memphis' double-digit scorers with 12 points as the Grizzlies earned their 10th straight victory on Beale Street, one short of the franchise mark set from Dec. 18, 2009-Jan. 25, 2010.
Meanwhile, a loss by the LA Clippers in New York on Wednesday gave the Grizzlies an opportunity to steal the fourth seed and home court away from their Western Conference quarterfinals opponent with a win tonight.
Memphis is one of the best home teams in the NBA with a 25-7 record.
The Magic, on the other hand, are limping toward the playoffs although they did manage to halt a three-game skid and clinch the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference after topping the dismal Charlotte Bobcats, 102-95, Wednesday.
J.J. Redick scored a career-high 31 points for the Magic, who will play No. 3 seed Indiana in the first round of the playoffs.
"We needed this win," said Redick. "I don't think any of us wanted to go into that Memphis game with the uncertainty of who we're going to be playing. So it was an important game -- and it was our last home game, so it was nice to give the fans something to cheer for."
Redick made 6-of-10 three-pointers, hitting three in a big first quarter and two on consecutive trips down the court late in the fourth to double Orlando's lead to 12.
Ryan Anderson added 24 points and 13 rebounds, but Glen Davis left the game with a sprained right ankle after stepping on the foot of Bobcats forward Byron Mullens late in the first quarter. X-rays taken on Davis' ankle were negative and he's considered day-to-day.
Davis has been starting for injured All-Star center Howard, who underwent surgery last Friday to repair a herniated disc and remove fragments in his back.
Howard's absence has likely eliminated a serious distraction in the Orlando locker room revolving around his trade demands as well as his deteriorating relationship with coach Stan Van Gundy. That said, it's also magnified just how dominant the big man was as a defender. Orlando is 4-7 overall without Howard and has struggled defensively.
Memphis has won three straight and eight of its last nine at home against the Magic.