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Grizzlies hold off Magic’s comeback to win fifth straight

Jan 5, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA;  Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner (22) drives to the basket past Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. (13) in the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Ja Morant scored 32 points, Jaren Jackson Jr. added 31 points on 12-of-14 shooting from the floor and grabbed 10 rebounds and the Memphis Grizzlies held off the host Orlando Magic’s furious fourth-quarter rally for a 123-115 win on Thursday.

Memphis led for all but a brief stretch in the first quarter, surging ahead 65-43 thanks to out-shooting Orlando in the first half, 26-of-51 to 15-of-43. The Grizzlies rode a 64-40 advantage for points in the paint on the night and built a lead of as many as 25 points in the second half.

The Magic rallied in the fourth quarter, however, with a 15-6 run fueled by Franz Wagner’s individual burst. He scored on four consecutive Orlando possessions, tallying 10 of his 22 points in a span of less than 90 seconds late in the contest.

With Caleb Houstan’s banked-in 3-pointer after Wagner’s surge, the Magic cut the deficit to six points but could get no closer.

Markelle Fultz knifed through the Memphis defense and had a look at the rim, but his layup attempt with 40.9 seconds remaining, which would have cut the gap to five points, rimmed out.

Reserves gave the Memphis offense a boost. The Grizzlies’ bench outscored Orlando’s 42-31, thanks to Ziaire Williams’ 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting overall and 3-of-4 from 3-point range, plus Tyus Jones’ 12 points.

Jones also posted team highs of eight assists and two steals.

Paolo Banchero led the Magic with 30 points and nine rebounds, but his 2-of-7 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc reflected Orlando’s overall struggles from deep. The team finished 11-of-36 on 3-point attempts.

Wendell Carter Jr. scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds before fouling out. Fultz dished a game-high nine assists.

Thursday’s win extends Memphis’ current streak to five games.

–Field Level Media