Jazz-Magic Preview

With Arron Afflalo leading the way, the Orlando Magic closed out

their road-heavy stretch on a positive note.

Now the Magic are hoping to end their struggles back in Orlando

on Wednesday night when they open a six-game homestand against the

lowly Utah Jazz.

After dropping five straight games to begin a stretch with eight

of nine on the road, Orlando (8-17) regrouped to split its last

four following an 83-82 victory in Chicago on Monday.

Afflalo finished with a team-best 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting

with eight rebounds, while Glen Davis and Jameer Nelson scored 14

apiece for the Magic, who won for the second time in three road

games. They also nearly stole a victory with a late rally in

Oklahoma City on Sunday before falling 101-98.

Afflalo has been a bright spot for an Orlando team that has

averaged 89.9 points over its last seven contests overall. The

shooting guard is averaging a team-best 21.6 points – more than

five per game above his previous career high.

”To me, it’s just about us getting healthy, putting it

together, and getting some consistency,” Afflalo said. “I feel

once we get consistent with the things that we do well we’re going

to be pretty good.”

The Magic will attempt to get off to a strong start on the

homestand against scuffling Utah, Sacramento and New York in the

first three games.

Since allowing an average of 89.6 points during a 4-1 start at

Amway Center, Orlando has given up 107.3 per game while dropping

five of six there.

”I’m really looking forward to our personal home stretch back

in Orlando and hopefully putting a streak together for once,”

Afflalo said.

The Magic should be able to tighten things up defensively

against Utah (6-21), which ranks near the bottom of the Western

Conference at 93.4 points per game.

The West-worst Jazz will attempt to rebound from consecutive

double-digit losses after falling 100-84 to San Antonio on Saturday

and 117-94 at Miami on Monday.

Alec Burks led the Jazz with a career-high 31 points on 12-of-17

shooting and seven assists against the Heat, while Derrick Favors

added 17 points and seven rebounds in the opener of a five-game

trip.

But Utah couldn’t hang on to a three-point halftime lead,

getting outscored 70-44 in the final 24 minutes.

”They did what they do,” Burks said after Miami shot a

franchise-best 63.4 percent. ”They had fast-break plays and great

stops to win the game.”

Favors has scored at least 17 in three of four games since

missing two because of a back injury, but Trey Burke will try to

regroup after finishing with a season-low three points on 1-of-8

shooting against the Heat.

The Jazz have shown improvement on the road recently, scoring

105.8 per game while winning three of five away from home. They had

averaged just 86.1 points in losing their first nine in opposing

arenas.

In the most recent meeting in Orlando, Gordon Hayward had 17

points in Utah’s 97-93 victory last Dec. 23. Afflalo finished with

a game-high 20, while Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and 16 boards

for the Magic.

Vucevic has totaled 32 rebounds in his last two games against

the Jazz, and averaged 13.5 rebounds in his last four overall.

Utah has won five straight meetings, including its last two

visits to Orlando.