Bruised and battered like no other club in NBA history, the Memphis Grizzlies are desperately clinging to a playoff spot after setting a record no one hopes to reach.
With players like Jarell Martin, Xavier Munford and JaMychal Green forced into major roles, the Grizzlies hope to avoid their longest losing streak in more than six years Sunday night when they visit the suddenly high-scoring Orlando Magic.
The Grizzlies have a slim edge over sixth-place Portland in the Western Conference playoff picture, but even a four-game lead over ninth-place Houston doesn't feel safe.
Memphis has lost leading scorers Marc Gasol and Mike Conley for the rest of the regular season and several others have missed time. As a result, the team set a league single-season record Friday when Bryce Cotton became the 28th player to suit up.
''We just have to stay the course and continue to just fight,'' veteran swingman Vince Carter said. ''No one said it's going to be easy, and I think everyone understands that.''
Zach Randolph, the club's go-to scorer by default, had 16 points on 6-of-18 shooting in a 99-95 home loss to Toronto in his second game back after missing two because of an ankle injury. No other player scored more than 12 as the Grizzlies shot 40.7 percent.
Memphis (41-35), however, limited the Raptors to 42.3 percent shooting after allowing an average of 106.8 points on 52 percent in the first four games of its skid. The club hopes to build on that effort as it tries to avoid dropping six in a row for the first time since a seven-game slide in November 2009.
Orlando (32-44) has scored 118.5 per game over its last four, including Tuesday's 139-105 home rout of Brooklyn that marked the team's highest-scoring effort since 2009.
"We just have to stay together and understand that the game is not won quarter to quarter. It's won in 48 minutes overall," Memphis guard Tony Allen told the team's official website. "Paying attention to detail is going to be key because that team in Orlando, I just saw the other day they had 139 points. I know they like to run-and-gun and we just have to be ready to defend and play our style of basketball."
Victor Oladipo filled the stat sheet for the Magic with 18 points, five assists, five steals and four blocks in a 113-110 loss at Milwaukee that snapped a three-game winning streak.
Nikola Vucevic has provided a boost by totaling 46 points on 22-of-28 shooting in two games since missing 13 because of a groin injury. The center also led the Magic with 16 points and 14 rebounds in a 108-102 overtime loss at Memphis on Jan. 25.
"The guys have played well the last few games, but it's just a (four)-game stretch and a small sample size,'' coach Scott Skiles told the team's official website. "We'll have to see if we can keep it going and end the season on a high note playing good basketball."
The Magic look to bounce back by winning three straight at home for the first time since November, but they've dropped nine in a row in this series.
Randolph finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Grizzlies in January, and he's averaged 19.8 points on 50.7 percent shooting in his last five meetings.