Maurice Evans takes the ball to the basket, only to be denied by Mehmet Okur, who lead the Utah Jazz to a 119-115 victory over the Orlando Magic on Saturday night.
Photo by Douglas Pizac, the Associated Press
Add Mehmet Okur to the list of players who have scored season-highs against us. His 29 points, and four three-pointers, helped move his Jazz past the Magic, 119-115. The Magic never lead in the game, but managed to tie the score at 93 thanks to a Hedo Turkoglu trey with 6 minutes to play. The Magic then fell flat, going 3 minutes without a made field-goal while allowing the Jazz to score 8 straight points. We never seriously challenged after that, and dropped our second straight road game. Here's the boxscore.
Again, this is an instance in which the Magic simply did not play well enough to win. They were in the game for the most part, but I never got the sense they would pull out the victory. They let the Jazz score the first 7 points of the game; allowed all of their starters to score in double-figures; and yielded and eFG% of .568, the fifth-worst showing of the season for the Magic defense.
There are two positives I'd like to mention: Rashard Lewis scored 27 points, which is the fourth straight game he's recorded 20-plus points. It appears as though he's finally coming around, although his 2-of-10 shooting from downtown leaves much to be desired. The fact that he took 10 two-pointers is a testament to his aggressiveness. The second good point is Dwight's free-throw shooting. He was 17-of-24 from the foul line, a respectable 71%. However, 6 of his 7 misses came in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. Was it a lack of mental toughness? Was it the loud crowd at EnergySolutions Arena? Something else?
Final rotation notes:
- Brian Cook is alive and mediocre. He finally got into a game, making his first appearance since December 15th, and scored 4 points in 14 minutes. Unfortunately, he also picked up 5 fouls, which indicates he's still not quick enough defensively to receive regular playing time. I expect James Augustine to reclaim his normal spot in the rotation Tuesday night against the Bulls.
- Meanwhile, Carlos Arroyo was as conspicuous in his absence as Cook was in his presence. Two weeks ago, Arroyo was almost single-handedly winning games for us. Tonight, he racked up a DNP-CD. What gives? I'm not sure that his presence on the floor would have won the game for us, but with Jameer Nelson struggling over his last two games (21 points, 9-of-19 shooting, ZERO free throw attempts in 63 minutes), it stands to reason that 'Los deservs a shot to run the show next time out.
The Wizards' victory over the Celtics tonight trims our division lead over them to just 2 games. With more than half the season still to go, winning the division is no longer a sure-thing. Here's hoping the guys snap out of the nasty funk they're in. They're talented enough to give any team in the league a run for its money, but it seems like the focus just hasn't been there lately.