Report Card: Jefferson, defense highlights in Jazz win over Magic
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz welcomed Paul Millsap and defense back to their repertoire Wednesday night.
The defense couldn't have been more timely as the Jazz, with the exception of Millsap and Al Jefferson who scored a season-high 31 points, seemed to have misplaced their offense. Millsap finished with 22 points to help the Jazz break a three-game losing streak and outlast the Magic, 87-81.
Guards: Mo Williams finished with nine points and still found a way to run the offense with seven dimes. Randy Foye, who had a mostly forgettable shooting performance with 1-of-6 shooting from 3-point land, hit a go-ahead 3-pointer late in the game. Orlando had taken the lead after trailing by as much as 14, and Foye's 3-pointer gave Utah the lead for good. Gordon Hayward did not have a particularly great night off the bench. No one else did either. GRADE: C+
Forwards: Millsap shared the heavy lifting in the scoring department along with Jefferson as he was the only other Jazzman to score in double figures. Marvin Williams scored an effective eight points on 3-of-7 shooting in 23 minutes of action. Overall, Marvin Williams looked pretty solid in his first game back from suffering a concussion. GRADE: A-
Centers: Jefferson had a monster night rebounding to go with his 31 points as he finished with 15 boards. Jefferson went 13-of-20 from the field and hit several big shots down the stretch. Enes Kanter didn't do much in his limited 16 minutes of play as he finished with four points and three rebounds. GRADE: A-
Bench: The bench was mostly absent as far as point production is concerned. Defensive contributions were better as DeMarre Carroll finished with three steals and the bench finished with six total steals. Carroll also led the bench in points with six. Gordon Hayward, who had been on an offensive tear before tonight, finished with four points, all on free throws. Alec Burks and Jamaal Tinsely did not see any playing time. It didn't seem to be the night for the bench to shine. Earl Watson and Jeremy Evans even failed twice to connect on what is normally a routine alley-oop. GRADE: C
Overall: Utah picked up the defensive intensity which was lacking during its three-game losing streak, but the offense disappeared with the increased defense. Jefferson continues to put up huge numbers and hopefully his back injury is nothing serious. It's difficult to image the Jazz winning without Jefferson down low. Millsap officially pulled out of a terrible slump at a great time. He most likely will only improve his performances game-in and game-out. The Jazz nearly gave away another win to a team playing mediocre basketball. Props to the Jazz for finding a way to win a close game that never had any rhythm or flow to it. GRADE: B+
Tyler Huskinson is a freelance journalist who loves to cover sports. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @TDHuskiSports.
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