Utah Jazz basketball: Jazz save their pre-Christmas road trip with comeback win in Orlando
ORLANDO — Maybe the snow machine that was blowing fake flakes outside Amway Center before Sunday's game made them feel a little more at home than they've been in a while.
Maybe they decided to give frazzled fans an early Christmas present after putting them through back-to-back blowouts.
Reasons why it happened varied, but there were no maybes about one thing.
The Utah Jazz desperately needed a result like their 97-93 gut-check victory over the Orlando Magic.
"We didn't want to lose," Jazz guard Randy Foye said. "We had a tough game in Indiana and we had a tough game in Miami, but tonight we just said, 'We ain't losing.'"
As a result of following through on that commitment, the Jazz salvaged their road trip by bookending back-to-back blowouts with comeback victories over Brooklyn and Orlando to go a great-for-them 2-2.
"It's definitely going to make this four- or five-hour plane trip a lot better that we won," Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward said, smiling before flying back home after the weeklong pre-Christmas excursion.
The Jazz didn't have Mo Williams, who missed the first of who knows how many games with a right thumb injury. And they came out playing like they were missing their captain and starting point guard, falling behind by 16 points in the second quarter after only scoring 18 in the first 12 minutes.
"They were making some tough shots in the first half," Jazz center Al Jefferson said. "We thought we were playing pretty good defense and knew if we kept playing our defense those shots wouldn't continue to go in."
It helped Utah's cause that the visitors got a wide range of contributions from the players available to play — from Paul Millsap's team-high 18 points, a strong all-around showing by Hayward (17 points), Derrick Favors (12 points) and their bench buddies, a feisty defensive effort in crunch time, and clutch free throws by fill-in starting point guard Jamaal Tinsley.
And, get this, the Jazz even got an energetic spark-plug effort from sporadically used reserve Alec Burks, who totaled eight points and three assists to go with hustling defense on Magic sharpshooter J.J. Redick.
"That second group did a good job for us. They're the ones who started our run and the other guys came in and finished it off for us," Corbin said. "Our young guys did a tremendous job for us, keeping us in there and getting us back in the ballgame to help us have a chance to win."
"That's our job," Hayward said. "Go in there and compete and play hard and bring energy."
That's precisely what the Jazz subs did, erasing most of a 16-point deficit before going into halftime down by just one at 47-46.
Orlando, which had won four of five coming into this matchup, looked like it had fended off Utah's rally attempt in the second half. After the Jazz took their first lead of the game at 50-49 on an Al Jefferson bucket, the Magic used a 12-2 burst to re-establish a nine-point lead midway through the third quarter.
But Utah continued to chip away, pulling within two by the end of the third and then using a 7-0 run to open the fourth quarter to take its biggest lead at 78-73.
The two teams went back and forth until Tinsley hit the third of his three 3-pointers to put the Jazz up 88-87 with 2:44 remaining. Foye followed that with a trey of his own after some terrific transition passing from Tinsley and Hayward, and the Jazz iced the game by going 6-for-8 at the free-throw line in the final two minutes.
"You've got to figure how to push yourself and try to get a victory," Tinsley said. "And tonight, we did that."
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