The Orlando Magic had been making home teams disappear all season long, entering Thursday night's late game against the Utah Jazz with a NBA-leading 10 road victories this season.
But this time — despite opening up a lead of as many as 18 points in the first half — the Magic couldn't finish the trick, losing 120-111 to the Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena.
The loss ended Orlando's eight-game road winning streak. It also broke a string of 23 straight wins — dating back to last season — for the Magic when scoring 100 or more points.
"(The Jazz) deserved to win," said Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy.
"After the first 18 minutes they played with a lot more energy and a lot more focus than we did. They dominated us — just dominated us."
Orlando, the defending Eastern Conference champions, have the NBA's most dominant center in Dwight "The Daily Double" Howard. He picked up his 16th double-double against the Jazz, scoring 18 points with 10 boards.
But that's to be expected. Howard puts up those types of numbers every game.
A more surprising big man hurt the Jazz on Thursday night in the first half as the Magic opened up a big lead.
The Jazz, for the second home game in a row, got burned by a 6-10 forward/center off the bench bombing wide open 3-pointers. On Monday night it was San Antonio's Matt Bonner who scored a career-high 28 points during the Jazz win over the Spurs. Thursday it was second-year man Ryan Anderson who had the hot hand.
Anderson made his first four 3-point attempts and scored 14 points in the first quarter alone to help the Magic take a 35-22 lead.
But Anderson's hot streak wouldn't last, as he finished with just 16 points on the night.
The entire Magic team cooled off after the first quarter. Orlando shot 65 percent from the field in the opening quarter, but finished the game with a 46.1 percent success rate.
"They played very well and we played very poorly," said Van Gundy.
"When that happens in this league — especially on the road. You're going to get beat."
The Magic coach actually wasn't surprised with the fast start followed by a lull. He just didn't expect Orlando to never recover.
"We've established a habit that's been going on for awhile now," said Van Gundy. "We jump out well, relax and then let everybody back into the game. The difference is that Utah is a better team (than the others). Until we start playing 48 minutes, we're going to struggle against the better teams."
Vince Carter, the new acquisition for Orlando this season in their quest for the first NBA title in franchise history, led the Magic with 34 points. But it didn't come easy for the veteran shooting guard.
Carter was just 9 of 23 from the field Utah also did a nice job defensively on Magic forward Rashard Lewis, who got into early foul trouble and never seemed to get comfortable.
Lewis, who had been particularly hot of late averaging 20.8 points in his last four games, managed only 10 against Utah on 3 of 8 shooting from the field.
The result was Utah's first win over Orlando since the 2007-08 season.
e-mail: [email protected]