The Orlando Magic rallied from a 14-point deficit againt the Utah Jazz on Saturday and came painfully close to ending their seven-game losing streak, only to watch as Trey Burke nailed a go-ahead three-pointer with 1.6 seconds remaining to sink Orlando and lift Utah to an 89-88 win.
With 29 seconds to play, Victor Oladipo made a go-ahead basket for Orlando and he hit another pair of key free throws down the stretch. The Magic didn't lead until 3:40 remained in the fourth quarter and made an admirable comeback, but Burke's late three was the difference.
Richard Jefferson scored 21 points for Utah, whose string big-man combination of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter tallied 22 points and 23 boards between them. Burke shot just 5-of-15 but scored 17 points, including eight in the final frame.
Magic center Nik Vučević put together a fine all-around performance, stuffing the stat sheet with 16 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and two steals for Orlando in his first game after picking up a first-quarter ejection. Oladipo scored seven of his team-high 19 in the fourth quarter, and also added six rebounds and four assists. Arron Afflalo scored 18 of his own.
Jefferson feasted on the Magic early, outscoring Orlando by a 17-16 margin in the first quarter as Utah built an 11-point lead. The veteran swingman exploited Maurice Harkless' aggressive defense by springing free of the second-year Orlando forward when Harkless rotated off him to help, and the Jazz did well to find Jefferson beyond the arc in those situations. Harkless later compounded that error by closing on Jefferson so hard that he fouled him on a three-point attempt.
Without Jameer Nelson to organize the offense--a sore knee sidelined Orlando's top lead guard for the second consecutive game--the Magic struggled to get good shots in the first quarter, shooting 7-of-20 with four turnovers which led to eight Jazz points.
Utah appeared to be on its way to securing a rout midway through the second quarter, with a Gordon Hayward jumper giving it a 40-26 lead. Over the next three minutes, however, the Magic worked their way back in with a 13-2 run which Oladipo capped off with a fast-break finish over Favors. Orlando didn't yield any field goals during that run. It also didn't commit any turnovers.
The Jazz restored their lead to six points at halftime, but Orlando did well to fight its way back into the game.
Utah opened the second half with seven unanswered points, including Jefferson's season-high-setting fifth trey, to re-take a 13-point lead. But Orlando rallied back on the strength of Harkless, who scored seven unanswered points of his own moments later in a variety of ways: a three-pointer off the catch, a dunk in transition off an Afflalo feed, and a pull-up two-pointer. Utah's only point the rest of the way came on a Trey Burke technical free throw as Orlando finished the period trailing by only five. The Magic managed to trim a point off Utah's lead with their defense, limiting the Jazz to 30 percent shooting.
A poor start bedeviled Orlando in the fourth quarter as well as it missed each of its first four shots, enabling the Jazz to rebuild a 10-point edge on Diante Garrett's three at the 9:58 mark.
But the Magic's second unit kept them afloat, with Doron Lamb and E`Twaun Moore coming up with key three-point plays to prevent Utah from pulling away. Once coach Jacque Vaughn reloaded with his starters, the Magic made another serious run at the hosts, with Afflalo's triple with 4:07 to go knotting the score at 74. Less than a minute later, Oladipo split a pair of free throws to give the Magic a 77-76 lead, their first advantage of the game.
Harkless made an alert play to thieve a Favors outlet pass, recover, and dunk to tie the score again at 81. Jefferson missed a wide-open three-pointer well short and Afflalo recovered with 49 seconds to go. Instead of calling for time, Vaughn encouraged his team to push the ball. Oladipo ultimately isolated against Burke near the top of the key, shed him with a crossover, and nailed a long, pull-up two with 29 seconds remaining.
The Magic shot 5-of-6 from the foul line on their next three possessions as Utah played the foul game. Crucially, the Jazz went 3-of-4 from the line themselves, in addition to getting an easy layup for Favors, keeping pace with the Magic.
And then off Afflalo's free-throw miss, Hayward pushed the ball ahead and got under the basket, finding Burke for the decisive shot. Afflalo's game-winning triple with 0.4 seconds to play fell short and to the left.