Magic was to be had Sunday night at the tail end of the Jazz's pre-Christmas road trip. And Utah made momentum-building music heading into the holiday.
The Jazz beat the Magic 97-93.
GUARDS: At first glance, Jamaal Tinsely was ineffective offensively in place of Mo Williams as the starting floor general. But considering Tinsley made 3 of his 8 shot attempts beyond the arc, he certainly was not a liability. He added four assists and two steals in 27 minutes — the most he's played since a Nov. 28 victory over New Orleans. And though he shot 0 of 2 from the field and just 2 of 4 from the free-throw line, Earl Watson's eight assists in 21 minutes were exactly what Utah needed. The Jazz will continue to be successful when they get a dozen-plus assists in a game from their point guards. Orlando's Jameer Nelson's 14 points came on 5-of-13 shooting, and it took him 44 minutes to tally eight assists.
Randy Foye (8 points on 3-of-8 shooting, but 2-of-4 from distance) provided a couple of steals but didn't do anything special in his efforts to slow Arron Afflalo (20 points on 9-of-19 shooting), whose totals slightly exceeded his 16.4 points-per-game average and 45 percent shooting. GRADE: B-.
FORWARDS: Paul Millsap (18 points on 6-of-12 shooting, 7 rebounds, 30 minutes) was excellent offensively, not surprisingly outplaying Gustavo Ayon (9 points on 3-of-7 shooting) offensively. But Ayon's 12 rebounds far exceeded his 3.6 per-game average. However, he did play 37 minutes rather than the 12.4 he has averaged this season.
Marvin Williams (3 points on 1-of-6 shooting) provided an awful 17 minutes, especially considering the 18 from Maurice Harkless (7 points on 3-of-4 shooting, 2 steals) were much better. GRADE: C-.
CENTERS: Al Jefferson (12 points on 6-of-14 shooting, 9 rebounds) was solid, but Orlando's Nikola Vucevic (16 points on 7-of-10 shooting, 16 rebounds, 40 minutes) was better. Though Enes Kanter (4 points on 2-of-7 shooting, seven rebounds, 15 minutes) was responsible for defending Vucevic for at least a half-dozen minutes, that's unfortunate for the Jazz, considering Vucevic per 48 minutes was a bit better than normal (10.2 points and 9.6 rebounds in 29.6 minutes per game). Big Al's point total was his highest in three games after shooting just 3 of 16 in the previous two games combined. His rebound total was the fourth-lowest in the past seven. GRADE: C-.
BENCH: Led by Gordon Hayward (17 points on 7-of-10 shooting) and Derrick Favors (12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, 4 rebounds in just 18 minutes), the Utah reserves bested the Orlando bench 43-27. The Magic's reserves were led by J.J. Redick (14 points on 5-of-10 shooting, 5 assists), but he did commit seven turnovers. After shooting just 22 of 63 over eight straight contests — scoring eight points or less in half of them — Hayward has averaged 16 points and shot 12 of 18 in the past two. GRADE: A-.Comment on this story
OVERALL: Momentum is huge at any level in sports, and it truly is significant that Utah won this contest heading into the Christmas holiday. With 7-of-18 shooting beyond the arc and just 12 turnovers — compared to 20 of the latter from Orlando — Sunday night marked one of the Jazz's most complete games, especially on the road and especially also since six Jazzmen scored in double figures. With Favors playing as well in his position as Hayward did, it's a wonder he didn't play at least as much time (26 minutes) — especially considering that Marvin Williams struggled so much in his time. But that particular analysis makes for a broken record on this night of Magic. GRADE: C+.
Rhett Wilkinson studies interesting stuff at Utah State University and is the co-founder of Aggie BluePrint, USU's first student magazine. A Deseret News editorial intern, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wilklogan.