Preview: Magic try to close out road trip on a high note against Jazz
TV: FOX Sports Florida
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 8:30 p.m.
The Utah Jazz are looking forward to a long stretch of home games after playing a league-high 25 road games during the first half of their slate.
The Orlando Magic would just like to go home.
The weary Magic complete a six-game excursion that includes stops in all four time zones when they visit the Jazz on Wednesday in Salt Lake City. Utah will be without point guard Ricky Rubio, out about two weeks after suffering a hamstring injury on Monday.
Orlando is 1-4 on the trip with double-digit setbacks in each of the past three games and in all four losses.
“It’s a tough situation for us and it’s disappointing the way we’ve been playing,” Magic center Nikola Vucevic told reporters after Monday’s 111-95 loss to the Sacramento Kings. “We have to keep working and find a way to turn things around.”
The Magic opened the trip with a 25-point loss to the Charlotte Hornets before rebounding to beat the Chicago Bulls by 28. Then they lost by 17 to the Minnesota Timberwolves and 10 to the Los Angeles Clippers before running out of gas during the 16-point loss to the Kings.
Orlando trailed by 28 points at the start of the fourth quarter while falling for the eighth time in the past 11 contests.
“Things aren’t going to get any easier, so we either fight through it or we let this thing hit us even harder and our season will be over,” small forward Evan Fournier told reporters after Monday’s loss. “We have two options right now.”
The schedule is about to become much nicer to Utah with eight of the next nine games at home, including four in a row.
The Jazz completed a 2-2 road trip with a 114-102 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, when they were outscored 31-16 in the fourth quarter.
“We got a little bit worn down and didn’t attack like we had the rest of the game,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said after the loss. “… We’ll figure it out. Our team has to pull together even more, which we consistently do, and we’ve got to defend collectively.”
The most painful part of the contest happened in the first quarter when Rubio pulled up with a hamstring injury. He had nine points on 4-of-5 shooting in the first 4:37 before exiting.
Rubio and Sefolosha received “clean” MRI exams Tuesday, according to The Athletic. Sefolosha will be out about 10 to 12 days, according to a report from The Athletic.
Rubio’s departure and Exum’s unavailability pushed Raul Neto into a heavier role, and the Brazilian chipped in with 10 points, six rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes.
“We have guys that usually don’t get minutes but are able to help the team in playing,” Jazz center Rudy Gobert told reporters after the loss. “They’re actually very good basketball players and Raul did a great job (Monday), coming in and giving us a chance to win the game, so we have a lot of guys that can come in and help out.”
Star guard Donovan Mitchell made a season-best six 3-pointers while scoring 26 points against Milwaukee, but he missed all five shots while going scoreless in the fourth quarter.
The Jazz have won 12 of the past 16 meetings with the Magic, but Orlando won this season’s first meeting — 96-89 on Dec. 15 in Mexico City.