On this six-game road trip, the Orlando Magic blew double-digit leads in three different time zones.
I have to check with Elias Sports Bureau, but I’d imagine that has never happened in NBA history.
A 19-point lead in Minnesota. A 15-point lead in Los Angeles. A 21-point lead in Utah.
They lost each BY DOUBLE-DIGITS. Combine that with two blowout losses in Charlotte and Sacramento, and one victory over the hapless Bulls in Chicago, and the Magic finished the trip 1-5.
Given the circumstances, Wednesday’s 106-93 loss to the Jazz was the worst of all, bringing what once seemed like a somewhat promising Magic season to a new low. Let’s start at the beginning...
A Magic offense that in its last three games had been shooting 40 percent from the field for a 95.8 offensive rating, came out firing in the first quarter against a strong defensive team.
It started with Jonathan Isaac, who scored the Magic’s first four points, including a three in the opening minute. It was an encouraging sign given Isaac’s performance and tentative play in his previous two games.
The Magic made 10 of their first 15 attempts, shot 57.1 percent from the field, and once against built a comfortable but early lead.
Terrence Ross hit a pull-up jumper to give the Magic a 19-point lead at 30-11 with 1:50 to go in the first. The Jazz would close the quarter on a 8-2 run to pull within 32-19 heading into the second. Hardly a comfortable advantage given the Magic’s tendency to surrender double-digit leads.
Aaron Gordon had 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting in the first and Nikola Vucevic added nine, as the two combined to match the scoring by the Jazz in the quarter.
The Magic extended their lead in the second, as a Ross three made it 42-21 with 8:30 left in the half....
And again the Jazz chipped away, pulling within 11 on a bucket by Georges Niang with 2:25 to go in the half. Isaac and Vucevic responded immediately with back-to-back threes, helping the Magic go into the break up 63-46.
Orlando shot 53.7 percent in the half, including 9 of 14 from three (64.3%), and made 10-of-12 from the free throw line. Vooch led the way with 14, Gordon and Augustin both had 13, and Ross had 10 off the bench on 4-for-5 shooting.
The most expected comeback in NBA history came in the third.
After a three by Augustin opened a 72-53 lead, the Jazz went on a 14-0 run that pulled them within five. Augustin then brought an end to the scoreless run and quieted the Utah crowd when he banked in a desperation three to make it 75-67....
The Jazz responded with a 9-0 run, capped by a layup in transition by Raul Neto, to take a 76-75 lead with 1:23 left in the third.
All combined, the Jazz closed the quarter on a 25-3 run as the Magic were held to three points over the final 8:43 of the third quarter. The Jazz outscored the Magic 32-12 in the third to take a 78-75 lead into the fourth.
Things only got worse in the fourth, as the Jazz scored at will and the Magic offense was stagnant. Donovan Mitchell scored 16 of his 33 points in the quarter as the Jazz built a double-digit lead of their own.
The Magic, outscored 28-18 in the fourth, were held to 30 second-half points after scoring 32 in the first quarter and 31 in the second quarter. Orlando’s shooting percentage, after being over 50 percent in the first half, dropped below 40 percent for the game.
Augustin finished with 23 points, Vucevic had 20 points, and Gordon added 18 points and 10 rebounds. Evan Fournier, who warned that the Magic had to fight through their struggles before the season was lost, was held to one point on 0-for-8 shooting.
It was a bad ending to what had been a terrible road trip for a team that has mastered the art of surrendering double-digit leads. The Magic, having lost four straight, head back to Orlando where the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets will be waiting for them for a back-to-back.