Magic start hot, but Donovan Mitchell takes over late to help Jazz rally for win

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Donovan Mitchell didn’t let a nightmarish start for Utah slow him down after halftime.

Mitchell took over the Jazz‘s offense, hitting several critical baskets and setting up others to help spark a second-half rally that gave his team a 106-93 victory over Orlando on Wednesday night.

The second-year guard shot 75 percent from the field after halftime, going 8-of-12, and set up four other baskets with assists. Mitchell finished with 33 points and seven assists, helping Utah win for the third time in four games and improve to 21-21 overall.

His performance helped the Jazz overcome the absence of their top two point guards, Ricky Rubio and Dante Exum, who are both sidelined with injuries.

“My biggest thing is not to change the mindset just because we’re down two point guards,” Mitchell said. “Just being aggressive and making the right reads. That’s what I’ve been doing and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”

Joe Ingles added 16 points and seven assists, and Rudy Gobert had 12 points and 14 rebounds.

Utah trailed by as many as 21 points in the first half before rallying behind a 25-3 run in the third quarter that completely erased the deficit. The Jazz went 13 of 21 from the field in the quarter while holding Orlando to 5-of-21 shooting.

The Magic ran off four straight baskets early in the quarter and took a 72-53 lead on D.J. Augustin‘s 3-pointer. Utah held Orlando to a single basket over the final 8:42 of the quarter to fuel the team’s go-ahead run. Mitchell made three layups and Gobert converted a pair of three-point plays to get Utah within striking distance.

Utah took its first lead at 78-75 when Neto capped the run with a pair of layups.

“We did all the little things, making everything harder for them,” Gobert said. “They came back in the second half thinking it was going to be easy for them and it was the opposite.”

Once the Jazz got warmed up, they never cooled. Mitchell made two baskets and assisted on two others to fuel a 12-1 run and push Utah’s lead to 102-89 with 2:02 left.

Augustin had 23 points and six assists for Orlando, Nikola Vucevic added 20 points and eight rebounds, and Aaron Gordon had 18 points and 10 rebounds.

The Magic ended a six-game trip with four straight losses and fell to 17-24 overall. It marked the third time in the road swing that Orlando blew a double-digit lead after blowing a 19-point advantage to Minnesota and a 15-point lead to the Los Angeles Clippers.

“We’ve got to be more gritty,” Gordon said. “We weren’t gritty enough. When they’re scoring, we can’t let that affect our offense.” 

Orlando jumped out to a 28-7 lead on the strength of a 22-2 first quarter run, helped by back-to-back 3-pointers by Gordon. Vucevic and Augustin followed with an outside basket apiece to put Orlando ahead by double digits and Vucevic finished it off with a fadeaway jumper.

Utah rallied twice in the second quarter, cutting the deficit to 11 the second time on back-to-back baskets from Georges Niang. Issac and Vucevic answered with back-to-back 3-pointers that put the Magic ahead 59-42.

The Jazz had no trouble making their rally stick after halftime.

“We kept guarding and then we started to make some shots,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “Obviously, we defended the second half pretty darn well.”

STEAL THIS

Vucevic grabbed a pair of steals in addition to finishing with a double-double. The two steals moved him into a 10th-place tie with Bo Outlaw on Orlando’s all-time steals list. Vucevic now has 401 career steals.

FAVORING THE BOARDS

Derrick Favors collected three rebounds to move into fifth place on the Jazz all-time rebounding list. Favors has 3,973 rebounds with Utah, passing Rich Kelly (3,972).

QUOTABLE

“I don’t think there’s a worse loss than being up significantly and allowing a team to flip the score on you.” Jonathan Issac on Orlando blowing a 21-point first half lead to the Jazz. 

TIP INS

Magic: Mo Bamba was not in uniform because of a sore left foot. … Gordon started 4 of 4 from the field, but missed 10 of his final 13 shots. … Orlando had more turnovers (6) than baskets (5) in the third quarter.

Jazz: Neto made his first start of the season at point guard. He finished with 10 points, three rebounds, and three assists. … Utah outscored Orlando 60-30 in the second half. … The Jazz outscored the Magic 52-30 in the paint.

UP NEXT

Magic: Host Boston on Saturday

Jazz: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.