SALT LAKE CITY — Al Jefferson carried the Jazz on his back but may have injured himself doing so. The Utah Jazz center’s brilliant second half was a bright spot in an otherwise lukewarm performance for the Jazz, as they defeated the Orlando Magic 87-81.
It was a game that lacked any consistency on both offensive and defensive ends for the Jazz. That said, Utah did enough to eke out the victory.
Formidable front court: One need only glance at the box score to decipher how this game was won. The duo of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap were in good form Wednesday night, a much needed sight as many teammates struggled.
Jefferson was unstoppable in the second half as he scored 23 of his 31 points in the latter 24 minutes, 16 coming in the third quarter. He scored on a variety of offensive plays, going inside and outside. The Orlando Magic big men corps’ efforts to defend him were futile. He shot 13 of 20 from the field (65 percent) while hitting all five free throw attempts. Add in 15 rebounds and a pair of assists and you’ve got a complete game.
Unfortunately, he left the game with 1:29 remaining. Jefferson was clutching his back in obvious pain, suffering what is being described as back spasms.
His partner-in-crime Paul Millsap had a nice game in the midst of a well-discussed slump. The power forward’s shot was on as he connected on 8 of 14 from the floor en route to 22 points. He threw in four rebounds, three blocked shots, and three assists.
Struggling swingmen: While Jefferson and Millsap excelled, the swingmen individually and collectively had a trying outing. Mo Williams (3 of 9), Randy Foye (1 of 7), Marvin Williams (3 of 7), Gordon Hayward (0 of 6), and Earl Watson (0 of 3) combined to shoot a paltry 7 of 32 — just 21.9 percent. The result was 24 total points between the five of them.
DeMarre Carroll was a positive, as his hustle was a catalyst toward Utah maintaining the lead in the fourth quarter.
Odds and ends:
- Orlando and Utah joined to miss 23 of 25 three-point attempts.
- Of the 11 Magic players who saw action Wednesday, only Glen Davis, Jameer Nelson, and J.J. Reddick were on the 2011-2012 roster.
- Utah recorded an impressive 13 steals, with Mo Williams leading the way with four picks. Carroll added three of his own.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.