By The Associated Press
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Jameer Nelson understands why the Memphis Grizzlies are in the playoff picture.
Zach Randolph had 23 points and 19 rebounds, O.J. Mayo added 20 points and the Grizzlies won their 11th straight home game, 99-94 over the Orlando Magic on Monday night.
“They wanted it more, I think,” said Nelson, who had 11 points. “They played harder, especially in the fourth quarter. They executed well, and we didn’t.”
Memphis matched its win total from last season with its 24th victory and is a game behind San Antonio for the sixth spot in the Western Conference postseason standings.
“We have beaten Cleveland, Denver, Dallas and Portland,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said of the Grizzlies’ 17-5 record at home. “We have a lot of special wins this year. This one was just as special as any of the rest we have had.”
Marc Gasol added 19 points and Rudy Gay had 15 for Memphis. Mike Conley finished with 14 points and seven assists for the Grizzlies, who snapped the Magic’s three-game winning streak.
Dwight Howard led Orlando with 27 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks, while Rashard Lewis scored 19 points. Vince Carter had 15, while J.J. Redick had 11 points.
The teams were tied at 94 after Randolph’s tip-in with 1:34 left. Gay then locked up Nelson on the ensuing Magic possession, and won the jumpball, leading to his reverse layup for a 96-94 lead with just under a minute left.
“Conley hurt us late,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “He was by us on pick and rolls. Then, Rashard gave up the back cut (to Gay). That sort of wrapped it up. That took it to four (points). What are you going to say? The guy just got beat on the back cut.”
Gasol’s layup and free throw with 21.4 left stretched the lead to the final score, ensuring the Grizzlies would extend their franchise-record home winning streak.
The physical game led to both teams shooting under 47 percent — Memphis 46 percent, the Magic 42 percent. Orlando had 19 turnovers.
“The turnovers are creeping up, and it’s every game,” Van Gundy said. “It’s tough because we’re putting so much pressure on ourselves at the offensive end, and we’re not shooting the ball great.
“Then when you have 18, 19, 20 turnovers every night, it’s becoming a real problem,” he said.
Memphis closed the half with a 24-6 rally and took a 52-50 lead at intermission thanks to Randolph’s shot from 63 feet at the buzzer. Randolph grabbed a rebound on Carter’s miss from 13 feet, dribbled to the middle of the floor and heaved a high-arching attempt from the top of the key on Orlando’s end and swished the shot.
The shot stood after an officials’ review.
Defensively, the Magic pushed the Grizzlies in the post. Lewis was denying the interior pass to Randolph early, and Howard was banging with Gasol in the middle.
“I expect him to play like that,” Howard said of the physical play with Gasol. “He’s a physical player. He’s a good actor too. Physical, but he’s good at acting.”
Memphis matched the intensity after Orlando built its biggest lead, 44-28, starting a rally that ended with Randolph’s shot.
“They came out more ready than us,” Gasol said of spotting the Magic the 16-point first-half lead. “We executed well, but we weren’t taking care of the basketball. As the game went on, we played a lot tougher and we started moving the ball better.”
NOTES: Grizzlies C Hamed Haddadi was on the active roster to help Memphis defend Howard. Hollins said he wanted to have all of the post players he could in case Howard’s play put the Grizzlies in foul trouble. … Howard, who leads the league in blocks at 2.52 a game, almost reached his average on one Memphis possession. He swatted DeMarre Carroll’s attempt at the rim, then got Sam Young’s drive at the basket. The two blocks eventually led to a shot clock violation. Howard recorded his 33rd double-double, including six straight. … Redick left the game with 7:15 to go after his head collided with Memphis F Sam Young’s knee on a play under the Grizzlies’ basket. The resulting cut took five stitches to close. Redick returned to the game. … The Grizzlies 11 consecutive home wins equals the longest streak in the NBA this season. The Lakers and Cavaliers also won 11 straight at home earlier in the season.