Magic at Jazz game preview
Game time: Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET
TV: FOX Sports Florida
The Orlando Magic posted disappointing results over the season’s first full month but have significantly picked up the pace in December.
The slumping Utah Jazz, in contrast, haven’t been able to get much going of late.
The Magic continue a five-game road trip seeking a season-best third consecutive win Wednesday night against the Jazz, who try to avoid matching their longest skid from 2011-12.
Orlando (7-10) managed just 88.5 points per game in dropping 10 of 13 to conclude November but has since found a groove. The Magic – in their first matchup against the former face of the franchise – got the best of Dwight Howard in Sunday’s 113-103 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, then beat Golden State 102-94 one night later.
Arron Afflalo and Glen Davis both had 24 points while J.J. Redick scored 22 off the bench for Orlando, which compiled 23 points off the Warriors’ 14 turnovers and outscored them 48-36 in the paint.
“It was a great win for us. For the most part, I think we played as hard and with as much energy as we did (Sunday) night, which is saying a lot,” said Redick, who went 4 for 6 from 3-point range against Golden State. “(Sunday) night was an emotional night, (tonight’s) a back-to-back, there was a natural tendency to let down, so it really says a lot about our group.”
Orlando now looks to carry some momentum over to Wednesday against Utah (9-10), which has taken three straight in this series by an average of 10.7 points.
The Jazz, though, could be hard-pressed to extend that run if their recent results are any indication. Utah has given up 111.7 points per contest while allowing teams to shoot 51.4 percent during a three-game losing streak.
The Jazz led by as many as 14 points late in the third quarter Monday against the Clippers before surrendering 32 in the fourth of a 105-104 defeat. Utah, which dropped to 6-1 at home, has gone 6-26 since the start of last season when allowing at least 103 points.
“It all starts defensively for us,” said Gordon Hayward, who scored 17 points off the bench Monday. “That’s how it’s been all season for us, we gotta be better.”
The Jazz surely can’t afford to come out with another sloppy display, either. Utah’s 17 turnovers led to 25 points for the Clippers.
“You gotta take care of the ball, can’t give them any easy ones, especially at home, you just gotta be better than that,” Hayward added. “Hopefully (when) we come out next game, we will.”
Mo Williams had 20 points and 12 assists Monday for the Jazz, who continue to play without Marvin Williams (concussion-like symptoms) and Derrick Favors (plantar fasciitis). Both players are unlikely to suit up against the Magic.
Favors’ absence could help Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic continue his impressive play down low. The 7-foot Switzerland native has combined for 31 points, 27 rebounds and six blocks in the two December games after averaging 6.8 points in his previous six.
“I don’t think I was really playing that bad, I just think offensively I wasn’t as aggressive,” Vucevic said. “I knew at one point I had to come back and turn it around and just keep believing in myself. … I’m more aggressive now and it’s shown.”
In addition to keeping Vucevic involved, the Magic may want to get Redick more looks. Orlando is 7-3 when he has at least 11 points and 0-6 when he scores 10 or fewer.