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Late Magic Rally Falls Short in Utah

2012 December 6
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by Matt Jensen

The Orlando Magic fell to the Utah Jazz 87-81 Wednesday night.   The Magic were paced by Glen Davis’ 18 point, 12 rebound performance.  Orlando had four players score in double figures, and were led in rebounding by Nikola Vucevic’s 16 boards.  That stat may be a little deceiving however, as Vucevic had problems defending the paint, and Al Jefferson all night.  Jefferson finished with 31 points before tweaking his back in the final minutes.  The Magic fought through a turnover plagued night to make the game interesting, but couldn’t put this one in the win column.

The game started with the Jazz pounding the ball inside to Jefferson and Paul Millsap very effectively.  The Magic settled for way too many jump shots early.   J.J. Redick got up early and into the game to try to give Orlando a spark offensively, but he struggled with his shot.   Down by 9 at the end of the first quarter, Coach Vaughn went to the bench, and this was a problem all night for the Magic.  With the second unit on the floor, scoring doesn’t come easily.  Andrew Nicholson chipped in 8 points off the bench and Gustavo Ayon was active defensively, but they still seemed like a unit without a leader and without a real plan on the offensive end.   Orlando finished the first half down by 11 points.

Continue reading the recap after the jump…

The Magic clawed their way back in the 2nd half by running a much more efficient offense, but had no answer inside for Jefferson as he posted 17 points in the 3rd quarter alone.  Second chance points played a big part in the Magic comeback attempt, as Davis and Vucevic controlled the boards in the 4th quarter and Orlando finally took the lead at 79-78 with 3:20 left.  That was as close as they could get.  A key Randy Foye three pointer and a J.J. Redick miss early in the shot clock doomed the Magic tonight.  It would have been very easy for this team to pack this one in tonight and move on to Sacramento after the struggles of the first three quarters, but they didn’t.  Its a credit to the players and the coaching staff that they kept fighting and kept believing they could win this game.  This team makes you proud, even in defeat.

The Magic are now 2-1 on the west coast road trip.  If the first two games showed us the blueprint on how the Magic can win games, the first three quarters tonight surely were the blueprint on how to lose them.   Im going to remain positive and say that all of us would have been thrilled with a 2-1 record after three games of this road trip.   The Magic are doing good things, and will continue to work on their issues.  Friday nights game in Sacramento is a winnable game, then you’re playing with house money on Sunday night in Phoenix.  As long as the Magic control their turnovers and share the basketball they will be in most every game.

The west coast trek moves on to Sacramento Friday night against the Kings.  Tipoff is set for 10pm.

Matt Jensen is MBO’s Sr. Sioux Falls correspondent.