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After rallying in the fourth quarter to beat the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors in the first two games of their West Coast road trip, the Orlando Magic tried to catch lightning in a bottle thrice against the Utah Jazz.
Trailing for most of the game, the Magic put together a comeback in the fourth quarter against the Jazz but fell short. Orlando was down 68-57 heading into the final period and briefly held a 79-78 lead after a Glen Davis dunk at the 3:32 mark, but the Jazz were able to close the Magic out thanks to Al Jefferson.
Jefferson, nicknamed “Big Al,” was big for Utah in crunch time.
After Randy Foye nailed a three-pointer to give the Jazz a 81-79 lead following Davis’ dunk, Orlando was unable to respond on the ensuing possession. On the next trip down for the Jazz, Jefferson’s number was called and he delivered. Jefferson found himself with the ball in isolation on the left wing. Being defended by Nikola Vucevic, Jefferson faced up on the perimeter then backed down on the left block. After a few dribbles, Jefferson got into the paint with little resistance and dropped an easy hook shot over Vucevic.
On the ensuing possession, after Jameer Nelson was fouled while the Magic were in the penalty and connected on both free-throws to make the score 83-81 in favor of Utah, Jefferson’s number was called and he delivered once again. Isolated against Vucevic in the left corner, Jefferson faced up and nailed a 21-foot jumper effectively end the game with 1:51 remaining.
Jefferson’s dominance on offense can’t be overstated. Throughout the game, Jefferson had a healthy diet of hook shots, midrange jumpers, and floaters. There was no one for Orlando that could stop or slow down Jefferson. Jefferson befuddled Vucevic, especially, with uptakes to go along with his great footwork and solid shooting touch.
The same could be said for Paul Millsap, who was equally dominant offensively. For Millsap, nearly everything came easy for him — seven of his eight field goals were layups. Millsap was just too quick for Magic defenders.
By the end of the night, Jefferson finished with 31 points and 15 rebounds, while Millsap had 22 points, four rebounds, three assists, and three blocks. If you want to know why the Jazz won, Jefferson and Millsap were the reasons. They collectively destroyed the Magic’s frontline and left it in shambles.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Jefferson and Millsap were ruthless and efficient. They combined to score 53 of Utah’s 87 points. The only thing to slow either of them down was when Jefferson hurt his back late in the game after corralling a rebound.
After the Magic went on a 12-2 run to briefly take a 79-78 lead after a Davis dunk, the Jazz responded by going on a 9-2 run to come away with an 87-81 win.