Mon, 19 Apr 2021

Magic hope to hand Jazz second straight setback

Field Level Media
27 Feb 2021, 18:19 GMT+10

The Orlando Magic aren't exactly playing their best basketball, but they will get a chance Saturday night to do something on their own court that hasn't happened in almost two months.

Give the Utah Jazz back-to-back losses.

The last time -- and only time -- that happened to the Jazz was on Jan. 5-6 when they struggled in New York, first losing to the Brooklyn Nets and then to the Knicks.

Every other loss has been followed with wins by a Jazz squad that has stormed through the first half of the NBA season with impressive results. That includes compiling the best record in the league and the best start in franchise history.

And the Jazz are not even doing it with Hall of Famers John Stockton and Karl Malone. The franchise's modern stars, including Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, almost escaped Miami with a win Friday night. However, the Heat closed out a 124-116 win after the Jazz surged within one point in the final minutes.

"Tonight, we ran up on a team that really just out-executed us down the stretch," Jazz point guard Mike Conley said. "They made plays when it mattered most."

Miami made more shots, too. Utah missed its final seven field-goal attempts.

"We just made a lot of mistakes," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "We had too many breakdowns on both ends. Defensively, a lot of little things that made it harder and those are things that we needed tonight. It's one of those games we didn't shoot as well as we want to, but we just, we didn't play well."

The Magic hope to bounce back into the win column, too, after losing their past two games. Orlando took an ugly 129-92 road defeat against the Nets on Thursday.

"We can't beat ourselves and we can't turn the ball over, and that's where it started," Orlando coach Steve Clifford said.

The Magic are going from playing the team with the current longest winning streak -- the Nets have won eight straight -- to hosting the squad that has lit up the league since those back-to-back losses in early January.

Even with Friday's road defeat, the Jazz have won 22 of their past 25 games.

Most of those games were of the blowout variety, so Mitchell liked that the Jazz were tested even if the result wasn't what they wanted thanks to outstanding play by Jimmy Butler Co.

"We are not always going to be up 10 in the final two minutes," Mitchell said. "I think tonight was a good test for us."

Fixable mistakes, for sure.

After the Jazz pulled within 116-116 with 2:30 remaining, Utah managed only one more point. Mitchell committed a turnover, Conley had a charge and reliable sharpshooters Bojan Bogdanovic and Jordan Clarkson each missed 3-point attempts.

"I think we definitely saw a lot of things we can fix and adjust," Mitchell said. "That's what we are all about, trying to find ways to get better, and games like this definitely help."

--Field Level Media

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