It certainly wasn’t pretty, but the Jazz’s 87-74 win over Orlando — improving Utah’s record to 3-1 on a five game road trip concluding tomorrow in Miami — was an impressive defensive display.
Gordon Hayward had his fourth straight game with 20 points or more and ended his night with 20/10/8 — two assists shy of a triple-double. Derrick Favors had 18/9 with two blocked shots (and a 3-pointer!) and Rodney Hood came alive in the fourth quarter while battling a cold, scoring 11 points in the quarter for a final line of 13/4/2a.
How the Jazz almost lost the game
Though Orlando was 3-5 going into Friday’s game, they showed fight at home and gave the Jazz as much as they could handle, going up seven points in the third quarter and leading by four going into the fourth quarter.
Evan Fournier — Rudy Gobert’s fellow countryman — led all scorers with 21 points and had four rebounds and four assists. DJ Augustin (for crying out loud) had a season high 19 points and went 3-6 from 3-point range. Unfortunately for the Magic, no one else on the team hit double digits, and the Fourn-stin duo weren’t able to carry the day. The Magic ended the game with a 83.3 offensive rating. League average last season was 106.4.
The Jazz lost the turnover battle, coughing up the ball 15 times, which the Magic were able to convert into 20 of their 74 total points. Fatigue is a reasonable explanation for not only their looseness with the ball, but their inability to get back in transition and prevent fast break buckets.
George Hill missed his third straight game with a sprained thumb, and the Jazz’s point guards struggled in his absence. Dante Exum got the start and combined with Shelvin Mack, the two went 5-17 for 13 points, turned the ball over six times and committing eight personal fouls.
The Magic’s starting point guard, Elfrid Peyton — whose hair makes every dad say, “Why on earth would you have hair like that?!” — only finished the game with two points, though the aforementioned DJ Augustin was en fuego.
The Jazz also failed to assert themselves and draw fouls. They only took 16 freebies in 48 minutes.
Jazz’s defense carries the day
The Jazz’s defense, though, was all-encompassing. Have you seen “Fantasia?” Remember the giant, menacing demon that comes alive during “Night of Bald Mountain?” That was the Jazz’s defense, puppeted by Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors.
They limited the Magic to just 30 points in the paint for the game, out-rebounded Orlando 52-43, and only allowing 43.8 percent shooting at the rim.
Pretty much the only place the Magic shot well from was was from 3, where they were able to put away 40 percent of their shots. The Jazz held the Magic’s overall shooting percentage to 33.3 percent from the field, which I hear, is what experts call “not very good.”
Oh, and Orlando only scored 10 points in the fourth quarter.
Top 4 plays of the game
There was some nice eye candy in Friday’s game, namely some emphatic Hoodie drives, Derrick’s 3-pointer and Rudy Gobert’s steal and Eurostep dunk. Which one is your favorite? Make sure to vote up or down on your favorites!
The Jazz face the Heat tomorrow night in Miami, and after playing 39 minutes tonight, Gordon Hayward might be feeling fatigued. Do you think the team will grab the win?