The Utah Jazz are a frustrating team to play as the rest of the league has discovered in the course of this season. They can give you just the briefest glimmer of hope at times. They will go through their cold spurts and miss shots.
But everyone knows you have to stay sharp. It will not stay that way for long. Utah is always biding its time. And when that burst comes, an opponent just has to hope to survive.
The Orlando Magic were surviving. Leaning heavily on Nikola Vucevic and his 18 points at halftime, the team stayed close despite inconsistent offensive play. The Magic were using every trick they could to keep Nikola Vucevic open. And they got some contributions to keep them afloat.
There was still little defense when the Jazz got rolling.
Donovan Mitchell caught fire, driving into the lane and scoring with ease. He had 25 points in the second half and the Jazz’s offense found its groove. The team moved the ball effectively to get open 3-pointers.
That is how the team eventually built a double-digit lead for the first time. Orlando simply could not reel Utah back in ever again.
The Orlando Magic hung tough but were no match for the high-powered Utah Jazz in a loss at the Amway Center.
The Jazz never completely ran away with the game but the Magic never challenged, unable to mount a consistent offensive attack outside of Vucevic. There were little spurts but nowhere near enough for the Magic to stand up to the Jazz in a 124-109 loss at Amway Center on Saturday.
Utah ended up shooting 52.9-percent from the floor and 17 for 45 from beyond the arc. In the second half, the Jazz made 63.2-percent of their shots and scored 26 points in the paint.
It is not even that the Magic missed shots. They made 45.8-percent of their shots and 14 of 34 from beyond the arc. They hit on 51.1-percent of their shots in the second half. Orlando just could not keep up with a team that was outpacing them.
Even without committing a turnover in the second half.
Utah was just very good and Orlando was just powerless to stop them in the end. The team has to get back to the defense that was the basis of that three-game win streak. And the team has to get back to the drawing board.
Although maybe comparing this team to the best team in the league is a bit unfair in the end.
NIKOLA VUCEVICC, Orlando Magic
There is not a whole lot more the Orlando Magic can ask Nikola Vucevic to do offensively. He scored 34 points on 14-for-26 shooting. He made five of his seven 3-pointers. there just was no other consistent offensive option throughout the night. He played things smart too, staying on the perimeter when Rudy Gobert was in the game and attacking the paint when Derrick Favors was in.
Vucevic could have done a bit better defensively. The Utah Jazz killed the Orlando Magic on pick and rolls. The team constantly lost contact with either Gobert or gave up 3-pointers on the weakside. Orlando never really locked down the paint at any point of the game. But Vucevic’s individual brilliance is simply too hard to ignore or dock points for.
EVAN FOURNIERG/F, Orlando Magic
Evan Fournier got his scoring and his numbers in with 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Those are an encouraging sign for Evan Fournier after he struggled with his shot the last two games. The Magic need him to produce. But it was simply not at the level the Magic need to compete — much less compete with a team like the Utah Jazz.
Fournier made only one of his seven 3-pointers and 7 of his 20 shots overall. The Magic are going to find it difficult to win if he is shooting that inconsistently. It did not help that he struggle defensively to contain the ball handler or scramble out to the 3-point line. There just were not a lot of great second efforts defensively from the Magic overall. Right now, Orlando just needs more.
CHASSON RANDLEPG, Orlando Magic
Chasson Randle has had to dive right into the thick of things since joining the Orlando Magic. And there have been a share of bad moments for Chasson Randle in the process. He has struggled to find his footing and to consistently run the team. Many of those issues still remain. The Magic’s minutes with Randle in the game are still inconsistent at best.
But for what felt like the first time, Randle got his offense going and showed how he could contribute as an attacker and scorer. He scored eight points on 3-for-7 shooting, adding seven assists for good measure. Randle played perhaps his best game in a Magic uniform even if there are still elements he needs to improve upon.
MOHAMED BAMBAC, Orlando Magic
Coach Steve Clifford said Mohamed Bamba is likely to get some regular minutes for the time being. But the big thing for the short-term is for Mohamed Bamba to get back into rhythm. He just needs time on the floor to get his timing back down and regain some kind of rhythm. Bamba certainly looked like that. Especially in his first stint, he was still late rotating over and impacting plays.
As has been the case when Bamba has gotten more time though, that comfort builds slowly and then he makes a more positive impact. He hit all three of his 3-pointers and had a couple of nice baskets inside. He scored 11 points to go with four rebounds. That is a positive sign for him and there is no reason to think he might make this more consistent. His offensive potential is a huge boost. He just needs to be consistent on the details and get his timing down again.
UTAH JAZZ27-7, 1st West
When you are among the best teams in the league, you do not always need your best to dominate the game. The Utah Jazz had some sloppy moments and missed some makeable shots early. It always felt like they were biding their time. That is when Donovan Mitchell took over in the second half. The Orlando Magic had no answer for him or his ability to drive and kick. Rudy Gobert was a major rolling threat too and Orlando was not doing a good job denying him at the basket. Perhaps they were concerned about the 3-point shooting.
Not that Utah did not get its 3-point shots and looks. That is when the game really broke open. The Jazz hit their 3-pointers to gain some distance in the third quarter. That is all the Jazz have to do if they want to win against an opponent like the Magic. Bide their time and make their move. Once they established their lead, the Magic were toast.
The Magic fall to 13-21, 13th in the Eastern Conference. They continue their homestand Monday against the Dallas Mavericks.