Utah Jazz: Kryptonite at EnergySolutions stifles Howard, Magic
SALT LAKE CITY — Notch another mark in the comeback column for the Utah Jazz.
And another impressive win.
While they didn't need to mount a big rally to beat the Orlando Magic — other than a like-stealing-candy-from-a-baby six-point deficit — the Jazz certainly bounced back nicely from the double-digit defeat they suffered Wednesday night.
Making Wednesday's 13-point home loss to Miami seem like a distant memory, the Jazz hosted an execution clinic and a shooting camp Friday at EnergySolutions Arena while blowing out Orlando, 117-105.
"I was really happy for our guys after losing the game the other night to come back," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "This team (Orlando) probably was a little bit tired from playing a tough game (Thursday) night, but that's part of the business."
Getting back to winning at home, where they'd lost two of three, was obviously atop the Jazz's business agenda.
The Jazz, now 17-7, switched in and out of a zone to bottle up the Magic's middle monster, Dwight Howard, replicating their defensive success in an 18-point comeback win last month in Orlando. Bothered by a Kryptonite-like Jazz defense spearheaded by Al Jefferson, not-so-Superman only had 14 points with 12 rebounds as the Magic dropped to 15-8.
"We went to the zone a time or two," Sloan said, "and they missed some shots and kind of let us get a little bit of breathing room."
Meanwhile, Jazz sharpshooters — and there were many — knocked the breath out of Orlando, which lost 97-83 in Portland late Thursday.
Paul Millsap scored 20 of his 22 points in the first half, helping Utah take a 58-57 halftime lead.
The power forward then passed the scoring torch to Deron Williams, who exploded for 16 of his game-high 32 points in the third quarter as Utah took an 82-72 lead into the fourth.
But wait. Utah continued to play hot potato with the hot hand, as C.J. Miles went off for a sizzling 19 points in the final period. He finished with 26 points on 9-for-13 shooting, and Miles and Williams combined to nail 8-of-13 from beyond the arc.
"Everybody (was) rolling tonight, and that's the great thing about this offense ... any given time anybody could get off," Jefferson said. "A.K. did a wonderful job. C.J. got hot, Paul did his thing in the first half. D-Will, that's how he is."
For his part, Jefferson scored 16 points with eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
Andrei Kirilenko added an AK-47-like all-around outing of 17 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals.
"Everybody," Big Al added, "just stepped up and took a turn."
And Utah players took their turns showing off their offensive skills from inside and outside against a team that came in ranked No. 1 in the NBA in scoring defense.
Utah dished out 30 assists on 41 bucks, shot 53.9 percent from the field and hit a blistering 62.5 percent (10-for-16) from 3-point range. That, after missing 13 of 14 3s against Miami, was bounce-back shooting.
Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy didn't try to conjure up any excuses for his defense that vanished in the chilly Utah air.
"Look, they killed us," Van Gundy said. "Millsap in the first half, Deron Williams in the third quarter, C.J. Miles in the fourth quarter. I mean, they dominated us."
Not unlike what Miami — with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade taking turns — did to Utah in Wednesday's 111-98 victory at ESA.
"I tried to forget about that last game," Jefferson said.
The Jazz are making a point of remembering their last game against tonight's opponent, though. The Mavericks manhandled Utah a week ago Friday, 93-81, when both teams were on seven-game winning streaks.
"Everybody is really anxious for the game (tonight)," Jefferson said. "We really want to step up and show that we can beat that team."
The 18-4 Mavs have since improved their league-leading win streak to 11.
"(Tonight) we've got a tough opponent again," Kirilenko said. "Dallas, they playing well. They've got a good streak going, so let's break it."
And, yes, he indeed said that last phrase with a Russian accent reminiscent of Rocky's nemesis, Ivan Drago.
NOTES: Raja Bell (strained right adductor) and Kyrylo Fesenko (sprained right ankle) both traveled to Dallas with Utah after not playing Friday. Bell is considered a game-time decision, while Fes is day-to-day. ... The Jazz improved to 9-1 against the Eastern Conference with their first sweep of Orlando since 2007-08. ... Utah, now 10-5 at home, went 4-2 on its longest homestand of the season. ... The Jazz mascot, Bear, received a standing ovation from the crowd of 18,765 while getting honored for being named the M.S. 2010 Sportsperson of the Year and for receiving an award for the year's most difficult stunt.
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