Orlando Magic Blow Big Lead, Lose To Utah



Disturbing.  That was the word of the night for Stan Van Gundy in describing the Magic’s 104-94 loss to the Utah Jazz.  SVG repeated it probably five to six times during his post game press conference when speaking about the teams focus, defense and ability to take care of the ball.  Disturbing.  The Magic held an 18 point lead at one point in the 3rd quarter and let the Utah Jazz make an enormous comeback for their second time in two nights.  In consecutive nights, the Jazz have beaten two of the top-4 teams in the league in the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic.

The loss boiled down to the team’s inability to put away a team when they have the chance.  This lack of killer instinct is certainly not a new problem for this team, as they have been experiencing it for years.  Someone has to step up on the court and show the leadership to calm everyone down and ensure that they play with focus.  This isn’t happening.  Stan also emphasized that this was even more disturbing because the team had just had it happen in Charlotte and talked about it internally.  With all that being said, the team was up 18 after a sloppy start.  Had they made a few extra passes here and there and protected the ball better (21 turnovers), they most likely win this game.  While disappointing that it didn’t happen tonight, it’s something that can hopefully be fixed.

More deeply intense and thought provoking notes and observations after the jump:

  • Utah scored69 of their 104 points in the second half.  While Deron Williams was hot (30 points and 14 assists), most of the buckets scored by Utah came off of defensive breakdowns rather than great offense.  Utah made the extra passes that the Magic were not making.
  • The run for Utah really began tonight when Jerry Sloan switched his team defense to a zone.  The Magic’s poor team passing was greatly exposed and they settled for way too many bad shots and seemingly forgot that the key to beating a zone is penetration.
  • Ryan Anderson started the game again for Orlando at the PF position but lasted a measly 1:34 before SVG pulled him from the game and he didn’t return.  Stan said afterward that he didn’t like his approach at the start of the game.  Ryan had two quick turnovers and also struggled with the same issues in his last few starts.  Stan said he probably should have brought him back in the game after Utah switched to the zone, but thought he had been sitting for too long at that point.
  • Vince Carter led the Magic in scoring with 20 points but it took him 17 shots to get there.  He also attempted zero, yes zero, free throw attempts with those 17 shots.
  • Rashard Lewis, J.J. Redick and the rest of the Magic’s deep threats continued to struggle from distance.  The team shot 12-32 from deep and the only player who looked like they’ve had a consistent jumper is the half-injured Jameer Nelson.
  • Dwight Howard, who had attempted 20 field goals in Monday’s game against Atlanta was only able to muster eight shot attempts tonight (plus 4-11 from the free throw line).  The team seemed to lose focus of getting Dwight the ball during the 3rd quarter and when they did feed him the ball, Utah immediately double teamed him.  Due to a combination of poor distribution decisions out of the double team and poor spacing/cutting from the rest of the team, Dwight was essentially shut down on offense.  He had 6 turnovers for the game and finished with only 14 points and 9 rebounds.

The Magic have a chance to bounce back at home on Friday night against the lowly Toronto Raptors at 7pm.  The game will be televised on FSN Florida.

Brian Serra is a contributing blogger at Howard the Dunk and the founder of MagicBasketballOnline.com.  You can follow/add him on Twitter and on Facebook.