AP Photo
April 03, 2016

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) The Memphis Grizzlies have picked the worst time to start stumbling.

The Grizzlies are in the bottom half of the pack of the Western Conference playoff race, fighting with Portland for the fifth seed while also being mindful they could fall out of playoff contention at the rate they are going.

Following Sunday night's 119-107 loss to Orlando at the Amway Center, Memphis (41-36) has lost six straight and trails Portland by a half-game for fifth.

''We just have to stay the course,'' Vince Carter said. ''It (stinks) and there is a dark cloud over us right now. But we can still see the light of day. It's still possible. We just have to win a couple of games and everything feels a little better. We just have to stay the course and figure it out. It's plain and simple at this point.''

Memphis, which has been stomped by injuries to key players and numerous shifts in the lineup, just seems out of synch as the franchise is in the midst of its longest losing streak since November 2009. And there isn't a lot of time to get things turned around with the end of the regular season just over a week away.

''It's tough,'' said center Zach Randolph, who had 15 points but shot just 5 for 15 from the field ''We're not used to this, even though we have a whole new team, young players. Ain't no excuse, but we're not used to this. It's tough.

''We have to stay positive and keep working.''

Many of the issues that have plagued the Grizzlies during their previous five losses manifested themselves Sunday night. They couldn't consistently score and their defense faltered at critical times against an explosive Orlando team. Memphis cut its one-time 20-point deficit to 10 in the fourth quarter, but the Magic came alive with reserves Brandon Jennings and Andrew Nicholson combining to knock down three 3-pointers to push the lead to 109-91.

The Grizzlies also pulled within 10 again late in the fourth quarter when Carter made a 3 to make it 109-99 with 3:18. But again, the Grizzlies could do little stop the Magic down the stretch.

Orlando (33-44) was led by Nikola Vucevic, who had 25 points off the bench. Victor Oladipo and Evan Fournier scored 22 points each and Aaron Gordon added 14 as five Magic players hit double figures.

''It was a good game,'' said Memphis coach Dave Joerger. ''We just didn't get enough stops. Too much Vucevic, too much Oladipo.''

The Magic, who have long been out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, continued their strong play as of late. They have three straight games at home and four of their last five games.

''I'm hopeful, but I wish it hadn't happened when we were out of it. That's the reality of it,'' Orlando coach Scott Skiles said of the signs of growth his young team is showing down the stretch. ''It's got to happen when you are still in it, not when you're out of it.''

TIP-INS

Memphis: The Grizzlies' six-game losing streak is their longest since November 2009 when they lost seven straight. ... Matt Barnes hit his first four 3-pointers of the game.

Orlando: Vucevic came off the bench for the third straight time since returning from a groin injury last week. Skiles said bringing Vucevic off the bench allows him to better monitor his minutes and it also gives him time to play his way back into playing shape after missing time out of the lineup. ... Skiles said Oladipo injured his ankle against Milwaukee and was a game-time decision, but started.

UP NEXT

Memphis: Hosting Chicago on Tuesday.

Orlando: Hosting Detroit on Wednesday.

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