Sunday, December 23, 2012

Jazz Pull Out Another Tight Win Over Magic

Despite owning a 16-point lead Sunday night, Orlando found a way to fall apart in the second half and lose to the Utah Jazz 97-93. 20 turnovers will negate a 50 FG% performance. The Magic have dropped to 12-15 after losing back-to-back nail-biters. Here are the postgame locker room interviews. Coming off his first double-double as a member of the Magic, Gustavo Ayon was penciled in to start at power forward for the first time this season as Magic Coach Jacque Vaughn is rewarding the Mexican for outstanding play of late. ‘Goose’ started 24 games last season with New Orleans. Ayon tonight had 9 points and 12 rebounds as he missed a chance to tie the game at the free throw line with ten seconds remaining. Nik Vucevic tallied a monstrous 16 points and 16 rebounds, and now has five double-doubles in his last six contests. Arron Afflalo led all scorers with 20 points.
Coach Vaughn on missed chances: “I think it’s pretty simple. You out-rebound a team, you shoot 50% from the field, make nine 3s, have 20 turnovers for 22 points. The game is really that simple. 

Orlando suffered a disappointing 87-81 defeat in Salt Lake City on December 5th where the Magic shot an appalling 1-for-15 from 3-point range and were absolutely abused by the Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap Utah frontline pairing. Orlando did better against the Jazz big men, and even made 9-of-20 from 3-point range. It was all about turnovers and Utah have more success getting to the free throw line. Mo Williams wasn’t available due to a right thumb injury he suffered Saturday in Miami. That meant more minutes for Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson.  Tinsley shot 3-for-8 from 3-point range. Jazz Coach Tyrone Corbin would have the services of Derrick Favors this time around as he poured in 12 points.
Coach Vaughn on Kyle O'Quinn's 1st half minutes: "Came in with energy and he deserved the minutes he played tonight, and it was good to see him have some success out there."
Orlando pounced early on a Jazz side that did not look like they weren’t ready to play just yet. Magic put up a season-best 30 points in the first quarter, leading by a dozen thanks to 14-of-21 shooting. Fabulous contributions and hustle all around from the white-and-blue. Afflalo notched 13 points in that opening session. Orlando would only muster 17 points on 7-of-19 shooting in the 2nd period. Dumb turnovers and a lowered defensive intensity allowed Utah to only trail 47-46 at halftime.

A lay-up by Al Jefferson at the 10:23 mark of the 3rd period handed Utah their first lead of the evening, 50-49. The Magic didn’t get their first free throw attempts of the contest until the 7:31 mark as Afflalo finally got the stripe. Orlando would create some separation midway through the quarter thanks to an 8-0 run before Utah reeled the Magic in to only trail 73-71 heading into the final period of this evenly matched contest.
Coach Vaughn on Vucevic guarding Jefferson: "It was great, he stayed with the game plan, and he was disciplines. I think Al maybe got him on one pump-fake the entire night..."

The 4th quarter can only be described as a foul-heavy, physical battle that was suitable for the grass fields of the NFL. Jameer Nelson would tie the game at 82-82 off a corner 3, only to be followed by JJ Redick getting tagged with a technical foul for being furious at no foul being called on Alec Burks who pulled Redick’s jersey out of his shorts. Utah utilized back-to-back 3-pointers to take a 91-87 lead with 2:19 to go. Redick had a career-worst 7 turnovers, including four of the Magic’s 6 in the fourth period. The Magic were sloppy in crunch time. Blame it on the refs, blame it on Ayon not being able to finish, but don’t take credit away from Utah’s physical play in the second half. Orlando practices on Monday, will enjoy Christmas Day off, and will take on the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday. It’ll be Ryan Anderson’s return to Amway Center. 

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