By John Denton
December 5, 2012
``I thought we had good fight, but Utah just made some really big shots down the stretch,’’ Afflalo said.
The Magic came into the game riding high after beating the Lakers and former Orlando center Dwight Howard on Sunday and toppling the Warriors on Monday. They had thrived in the fourth quarter of those games, handing out 24 assists on their 26 baskets in the two wins. But the offense wasn’t nearly as sharp on Wednesday, leading to the trip’s first loss.
The Magic’s longest roadtrip of the season continues Friday night in Sacramento when they face the Kings. Orlando wraps up the nine-day trip throughout the Western Conference on Sunday in Phoenix against the Suns.
Once down as much as 14 points, the Magic charged back into the game in the third period. Moving the ball better and pushing the pace, Orlando got within 58-55 on a reserve layup by Redick. But a 10-2 Utah run – fuelled mostly by Magic turnovers – put the Jazz back up 68-57 heading into the fourth period.
``We finally got a few stops and transition baskets and we did a better job of sharing the ball,’’ Afflalo said. ``It was just unfortunate that we lost tonight.’’
In one of their ugliest stretches of basketball in more than a week, the Magic shot the ball poorly early on and were sloppy handling it as well. Orlando kicked the ball away 12 times in the first half alone. To put that into perspective, Orlando had just eight turnovers in Monday’s defeat of the Golden State Warriors.
The Magic were actually lucky to trail only 45-34 at the break considering their disjointed play. They hit only 35.9 percent of their shots and were off line on eight of their first nine tries from beyond the 3-point stripe. Things would have been worse if Afflalo hadn’t scored 12 of his points in the first half.
The night started poorly for the Magic as they ball movement inexplicably ground to a halt in the first quarter with far too many one-pass possessions. The result was Orlando making just seven of its first 19 shots.
Said Nelson: ``You can’t let the defense dictate our offense. In the second half we did a better job in every aspect of the game. We have to limit our turnovers as a group. We’re a team that can really make shots, but when we turn the ball over, we take shots away from our team.’’
Despite making just one of 15 threes and turning the ball over an inordinate amount, the Magic still had a chance to win the game after another great rally in the fourth period. That, Davis said, can be a building block for the Magic as they attempt to close out this roadtrip on a positive note.
``We started moving the ball and we played defense. They didn’t score a lot at all in the second half,’’ Davis said. ``We did what we had to do in the second half to get back into the game and that’s something for us to build off of.’’
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