Jazz 97, Magic 93

With one of his veteran floor leaders sidelined for an unknown

amount of time, Utah Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin wasn’t exactly sure

how his team would respond against Orlando after a pair of lopsided

losses.

He got a welcomed surprise.

Paul Millsap scored 18 points, Gordon Hayward added 17 and the

Jazz survived a fourth-quarter rally to slip past the Magic 97-93

on Sunday night.

Utah snapped a two-game losing streak with its fifth consecutive

regular-season victory over Orlando. The Jazz played without point

guard Mo Williams, who is out indefinitely after suffering a

sprained right thumb in Saturday’s loss to Miami.

Veteran Jamaal Tinsley played well in his place, scoring 11

points and dishing out four assists.

”It is tough, you don’t wish that on anybody,” Tinsley said of

Williams. ”This is just the nature of the beast. I get another

opportunity to go out there and play. We want him to get well and

come back soon. This is just the NBA. Somebody goes down and

somebody else get the opportunity to play … We just have to

figure out a way to win ballgames and do the right thing.”

Arron Afflalo had 20 points, and Nik Vucevic added 16 points and

16 rebounds to lead Orlando, which has dropped back-to-back games

since losing starting forward Glen Davis to a shoulder injury.

The loss also ended the Magic’s three-game home winning

streak.

Williams’ return in unknown after an MRI on Sunday revealed

damage to the thumb. He will have it re-evaluated back in Salt Lake

City.

Corbin has reason to be optimistic going forward, though.

The Jazz trailed by as many as 16 in the first half against the

Magic before closing that gap to just a point at halftime.

They also scored 22 points off 20 turnovers and also got 43

points from their reserves, including 12 from Derrick Favors. All

of this came on the second night of a back-to-back and following a

pair of losses by a combined 36 points.

”Jamaal and Earl (Watson) came in and did a tremendous job for

us,” Corbin said. ”They pushed the pace, they were getting the

ball up the floor, advancing the ball, (and) they did a good job

attacking the basket … Those guys are true professionals. They do

everything they can to help us win.”

Orlando led 73-71 entering the fourth quarter, but the Jazz

scored the first seven points of the period and took a 78-73 lead

with just over 10 minutes to play.

J.J. Redick hit a fadeaway jumper to put the Magic back on top

87-85 before back-to-back 3’s by Tinsley and Randy Foye nudged the

Jazz back in front 91-87 with 2:19 left.

Trailing 92-90, Orlando rebounded a miss by Millsap with less

than a minute to play and called a timeout. The Magic ran a set

play for Afflalo, but his 12-foot jumper was blocked by Hayward and

recovered by the Jazz.

Foye was then fouled and hit a pair of free throws to push the

lead back to four.

Redick hit a 3-pointer out of a timeout to cut it back to one,

and Millsap hit only 1 of 2 at the free throw line after getting

fouled with 10.1 seconds remaining.

Jameer Nelson pushed the ball up court and found Gustavo Ayon

underneath, who was immediately fouled by Foye. Ayon missed the

first free throw and his intentional miss on the second was

rebounded by Tinsley, who hit a pair from the stripe for the final

margin.

”Turnovers are always going to hurt,” Vucevic said. ”You’re

missing an offensive chance to score. We had a lot of them.”

With Davis sitting for the second straight game since spraining

his left shoulder last week, Magic coach Jacque Vaughn started the

second-year big man Ayon in his place – his first start of the

season. Davis is out indefinitely, with his return dependent on the

progress he makes during rehabilitation.

Vaughn had gone with rookie Andrew Nicholson in Davis’ place

during the Magic’s loss to Toronto on Friday, but struggled from

the field in just 19 minutes of action. Ayon came on as a reserve

in that game and posted a double-double.

At 6-foot-10, Ayon gave the Magic a size advantage over the 6-8

Millsap. Ayon finished with nine points and 12 rebounds, but

Millsap clearly won the night.

Vaughn said he wasn’t searching for answers of why his team came

up short.

”I think it’s pretty simple,” Vaughn said. ”You outrebound a

team, you shoot 50 percent from the field, make nine 3s, have 20

turnovers for 22 points. The game is really that simple.”

Williams said he thinks the point guard spot is in more than

capable hands while he’s out.

”One thing about him, he’s got a lot of starter’s minutes under

his belt,” Williams said of his understudy. ”But I thought that

the duo of him and Earl … one is not good without the other. I

think we need both of those guys to play well and I think they

showed that tonight.”

Notes: Sunday was the fifth game this season Williams has missed

due to injury. He missed one game in early November with a strained

right abductor and three games late last month with a sprained

right foot. … The Magic teamed with Chase and ”Operation

Homefront” at halftime to surprise Army Sergeant First Class Paul

Hiltibidal and his family with a new, mortgage-free home and a

$2,500 check to help provide holiday gifts for their four children.

While fighting in Afghanistan, Hiltibidal was injured and retired

from the Army earlier this year.

Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at

http://www.twitter.com/khightower.