Coming off yet another abysmal performance on Wednesday night, the Orlando Magic looked to find their footing again against the Utah Jazz. Despite leading heading into the fourth quarter, the Magic’s offense left the building, falling to the Jazz 87-74.
Looking for a boost for his starters, coach Frank Vogel shook up his starting lineup, turning to veteran Jeff Green and shifting Aaron Gordon to the bench. That change did not bring forth much help for the Magic, despite the increased spacing on the offensive end. The Magic defense didn’t improve either, getting beat time after time on cuts, and allowing the Jazz to get second chance opportunities off their poor boxing out. Still, despite their continued struggles, the Magic still found themselves in the game after one, trailing the Jazz by six, 23-17.
Turning to the bench, the Magic got a needed shot of adrenaline early in the second quarter, thanks to D.J. Augustin. The reserve point guard knocked down a pair of three-pointers to open the quarter, and gave the Magic’s offense a calming presence for much of the quarter. Orlando’s defense improved some in the quarter, slowing the Jazz down in the early portion, before allowing a 12-0 run that put the Jazz back in control. They were able to stop the bleeding, keeping the game close, trailing by just four, 42-38 in a low scoring contest.
Out of halftime, the Jazz appeared poised to push the game fully into their control, but the Magic had other plans. Despite Utah pushing the lead to as many as six, the Magic answered with smothering defense and just enough offense. With the reserves in late in the quarter, the Magic pounced, turning defense into easy offense thanks to Bismack Biyombo and Augustin. They used their energy to propel them to a 9-0 run to end the quarter to take a four point lead, 64-60, into the final quarter.
With a small lead heading into the final 12 minutes, the Magic needed to keep their momentum going on both ends. That did not happen, with the offense completely disappearing for the Magic in the fourth quarter. While the defense still had good stretches, their inability to score at all — they scored four points over the final 9:30 of the game — cost them, as Rodney Hood and he Jazz found enough offense to close the game out.
Gordon Hayward led all Jazz scorers finishing with 20 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists on the night. Derrick Favors finished the night with 17, while frontcourt mate Rudy Gobert added 13. Hood finished with 13 of his own on the night.
Evan Fournier led two Magic men in double figures, finishing with 21. Augustin added 19 off the bench.