It’s not easy to shoot a lot of threes, miss most of them, and still nearly win a game.
But that’s what the Magic almost did against the Jazz. The shooting percentages tell you the Magic had no business holding a lead, but somehow after trailing by as many as 18, the Magic stormed back and went up by seven in the fourth quarter. After that, they simply couldn’t hit enough shots to close it out as the Jazz went on a comeback of their own to win, 109-102.
The three-point shooting from the Magic’s previous two games (15 against Houston, 17 against New Orleans) simply did not carry over, and that was quite evident very early on as the Magic shot 0-for-8 from three in the first quarter and trailed 26-21.
Joe Ingles and Bojan Bogdanovic each scored eight in the quarter, including this buzzer beater by Ingles off an in-bounds play with 0.6 seconds left...
Orlando would miss its first 10 attempts from three before connecting on three of their next six, the last of which was by Markelle Fultz to cut the Jazz lead to 49-41. Fultz led the Magic in the first half with 10 points on 4 of 8 shooting. Orlando shot just 42 percent from the field compared to 53 percent for the Jazz, who went 7-for-15 from three (46.7 percent) to take a 58-47 lead into the break. The Magic were beat badly on the the glass, thanks in large part to Rudy Gobert, who grabbed 12 rebounds to give the Jazz a 32-18 first half advantage. The Jazz had eight second chance points in the half to the Magic’s zero.
The Magic opened the third on a 7-2 run to trim the deficit to six. It didn’t stay close for long. Coming out of a timeout, the Jazz answered with 14-2 run, hitting four threes during that stretch. A six-point deficit grew to 18 in roughly two minutes of gametime. The Magic were able to close the gap somewhat thanks in part to a three-point play from Terrence Ross and a four-point play from D.J. Augustin, and went into the fourth trailing, 82-71.
The run carried over into the fourth as Augustin powered the Magic to a thrilling comeback. Augustin scored 14 fourth-quarter points and orchestrated a 15-0 Magic run, highlight by Nikola Vucevic’s three that gave the Magic a 91-90 lead with 6:27 remaining. The run ultimately turned what had been a 90-82 deficit into a 97-90 lead, putting the Magic less than five minutes from victory.
Donovan Mitchell then answered with a ferocious one-handed dunk that ignited the crowd. From that point on for Orlando, it was mostly a combination of turnovers (one very ill-advised around-the-back pass from Augustin that led to a crucial layup in transition) and missed shots. The Jazz went on an 11-1 run, regaining a 99-98 lead on a jumper by longtime Magic-killer Bogdanovic with 2:12 left.
Utah outscored the Magic 19-5 over the final 4:45, limiting the Magic to two field goals in that stretch. And for some reason, with the Magic in need of stops, their best defensive stopper in Jonathan Isaac was on the bench for the final two minutes in favor of Aaron Gordon (a non-factor), and the hot hand of Augustin (who was soon replaced by Ross).
What could have been a signature win instead is a tough loss filled with missed open shots and some questionable substitutions on Clifford’s part.
The Magic went just 7 of 35 from three, with Evan Fournier missing all eight of his attempts. Vucevic also struggled from the field, missing many good looks and finishing with 12 points on 4-for-15, including 2 of 8 from three.
Augustin led the Magic with 22 points on 8 of 10 shooting. Fournier had 19 and Fultz finished with 14.
The Magic, who tied a franchise record for fewest turnovers in a game with three, were out-rebounded 58-41, allowing 10 offensive rebounds.
Bogdanovic again saved his best for the Magic, with 30 points (6-for-11 from three), 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Mitchell also had 30 points for the Jazz, becoming the first Utah teammates to reach 30 points in the same game since Deron Willams and Carlos Boozer in 2008. They helped the Jazz shoot 46.7 percent, including 15 of 36 from deep (41.7 percent). Ingles was perfect on all four of his three-point attempts and had 16 points and 12 rebounds. Gobert finished with 12 points and 19 rebounds.
Making the comeback loss worse for the Magic is that they now travel to Denver to play the Nuggets in the second night of a back-to-back.