Postgame Report: Magic vs. Jazz (3/22/14)

Victor Oladipo

By John Denton
March 22, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY – In a closing sequence that looked to be straight out of the NCAA’s Match Madness, old college rivals Victor Oladipo and Trey Burke traded daggers in the clutch late Saturday night.

And when Burke got the last look, he was able to bury a clutch corner 3-pointer that lifted the Utah Jazz and downed Oladipo and the hard-luck Orlando Magic.

Oladipo gave the Magic a two-point lead with 29 seconds to play when he coolly buried an 18-foot shot over Burke from the right wing. The game stayed that way until the final seconds when Orlando veteran Arron Afflalo missed a free throw with 11.9 seconds remaining following a bizarre delay for a referees’ replay review.

That opened the door for the pint-sized Burke, who paid no attention to a poor shooting night and buried a game-winning 3-pointer from the right corner with 1.6 seconds to play to lift the Jazz past Orlando 89-88.

Orlando didn’t get much of a last look, and Afflalo’s heave at the horn was too long. The Magic were left to try and explain how they lost another road game that seemed infinitely winnable. Oladipo, who played for Indiana and competed against Michigan’s Burke the past two seasons, said the moment looked all-too familiar to him.

``He made a good shot at the end and I think I did a great job of contesting it, but he’s been making big shots like that for a long time,’’ Oladipo said. ``It was a tough shot and he hit it. Kudos for him for hitting it.’’

Burke’s clutch shot won the game when Gordon Hayward drove into the heart of the defense and flipped the ball out to the right corner. Oladipo said he had to help inside so that a rolling Derrick Favors wouldn’t get a dunk and that left the 6-foot Burke open just enough to get off the high-arcing shot that hit nothing but net.

``I thought it was great team defense by our guys because we came in to help,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``I will be interested to look at his drive. But great pass by (Hayward). I think Victor, his contest was unbelievable. Trey Burke gets the shot off with a lot of arc, so give him credit for making it.’’

Orlando (19-51) failed once again in its bid to equal last season’s win total and dropped an eighth straight game. The Magic also fell to 0-14 on the road against Western Conference foes with just one opportunity left for a victory.

Down most of the game, Orlando’s first lead came 45 minutes in and with slightly more than a minute to play, the Magic set deadlocked with the Jazz. And when rookie Victor Oladipo buried a clutch 18-foot jumper with 29 seconds to play, Orlando seemed poised to capture the game.

Oladipo buried two free throws with 21 seconds left and Afflalo hit two more free throws with 19 seconds to play to keep the Magic ahead by three points. Following a Favors layup with 12.5 seconds to play, Afflalo was sent to the line for two more free throws. After he made the first, crew chief Bennett Salvatore called for a replay review and the clock was changed to 11.9 seconds remaining. Afflalo then missed the following free throw to give Utah life. He refused to blame the replay delay for the miss.

``Nahh, I just missed it,’’ said Afflalo, who had 18 points. ``When it left my hand it felt a little strong, but I still thought it was going to go in. I just missed it.

``(Burke) got a good look. We’re kind of trained to be back on the bigs and sometimes your training gets to you a little bit,’’ Afflalo said. ``You would probably prefer to stay home on the shooters down the stretch. Worst-case scenario you give them a two and the game is tied. Or if I would have made the free throw we still would have been up one. But it’s not one play that’s going to determine a 48-minute game.’’

Oladipo overcame a poor shooting night by shaking free for the clutch 18-foot jump shot that broke an 81-all tie with 29 seconds to play. Oladipo finished with 19 points despite making just five of 14 shots.

Burke, who scored a career-best 30 points in Orlando in December, scored 17 points for Utah. He hit only five of 15 shots. Nikola Vucevic had 16 points and 13 rebounds. Maurice Harkless had 15 points and his steal and dunk tied the game at 81-all with 1:10 to play.

The Magic’s seven-day, four-game road trip comes to an end Sunday night in Los Angeles when they face the slumping Lakers. Orlando whipped L.A. 114-105 on Jan. 24 in a game where Tobias Harris scored 28 points and grabbed 20 rebounds. Harris was just one of nine for two points on Saturday.

Orlando was without veteran point guard Jameer Nelson for a second consecutive game because of a sore left knee. The hope is that by resting Nelson on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday that he will be ready to play Sunday against the Lakers.

Orlando played with much more precision in the third period and got as close as four points of the lead. The Magic headed into the final period down five and in position to make a run at their first road victory in weeks.

The Magic trailed 49-43 at intermission and they were lucky to be that close considering their poor start and sloppiness with the ball. On the one hand, Orlando had 11 assists on its 15 field goals, but it also kicked the ball away 10 times, resulting in 15 Jazz points.

Vucevic, back a game after getting ejected early on in Phoenix, was aggressive and effective early on against Utah’s big frontline. He made five of his first seven shots and had 10 points and seven boards in the first two quarters of work.

The game started poorly for Orlando as Richard Jefferson made four 3-pointers early on and scored 17 first-quarter points and the Jazz surged ahead by as many as 14 points.

Oladipo and Burke, college rivals and friends off the court, both struggled early on in this matchup of top rookies. Oladipo, who started his fourth game of the season at point guard, missed six of his first eight shots, while Burke was off on five of his first six tries.

Overall, Vaughn – who had been preaching to his players to compete for 48 minutes – was happy with the fight from his team. ``Our guys played really hard, I don’t know how many defensive stops we got in a row (in the fourth-quarter rally) and we were engaged,’’ Vaughn said. ``We played together and physical. That was fun to be a part of.’’