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Jazz rally in fourth quarter to edge Magic

The SportsXchange

ORLANDO -- After getting hammered the night before in Miami and falling behind by 16 points in Orlando on Sunday night, the Utah Jazz could have packed it in early and headed home for the holidays.

Instead, the Jazz just kept on plugging, scratching out a hard-fought, 97-93 victory over the Magic to close their Eastern swing with a win that proved how resilient they really are. After back-to-back losses at Indiana and Miami, they prevailed in Orlando thanks to toughness.

"It would have been easy, when we were down, to just say, 'The heck with it,' and went home to regroup," Utah power forward Paul Millsap said. "But that's not how we work. We just kept working to get the job done."

Millsap scored 18 points to lead the Jazz (15-14) to a hard-fought victory that gave them a split on a four-game trip. Reserve Gordon Hayward had 17 points, while Al Jefferson and Derrick Favors each had 12 for the Jazz.

"We didn't stop when we were down. We just kept playing hard," Jefferson said. "We made the Magic work for everything in the second half, and eventually, it wore them down. That's why we came out on top."

The Magic (12-15) got 20 points from Arron Afflalo, while Nikola Vucevic had 16 points and 16 rebounds. Orlando shot 50 percent (38-for-76) from the field, and the Magic outrebounded the Jazz 45-36. However, the home team committed 19 turnovers, a problem that has bothered the Magic all season.

The Jazz were without starting point guard Mo Williams, who sprained his left thumb in Saturday's defeat against the Heat. Replacement Jamaal Tinsley scored 11 points, including the 3-pointer that gave them Utah a 88-87 lead. Orlando never led again. Randy Foye followed with another 3-pointer for the 91-87 Jazz lead with 2:19 remaining.

Magic center/forward Gustavo Ayon, who started for the first time this season, missed two free throws with 2.4 seconds remaining that could have tied the game at 95.

"This was an indication of how much fight this team has," Jazz coach Ty Corbin said. "We just hung in there and gave ourselves a chance. We made the most of the opportunity. It was a good learning experience."

The Magic lost Friday in Toronto because of 18 turnovers. This time it was worse. Orlando guard J.J. Redick had 14 points and five assists, but he led everyone with seven turnovers.

"(The Jazz) were able to get into us physicality-wise and force a few turnovers," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "It's pretty simple. You outrebound a team, you shoot 50 percent from the field, but you commit (19) turnovers for 22 points."

The Jazz opened a 78-73 lead, their biggest of the game, by scoring the first seven points of the fourth quarter. The Magic tied the game at 82 on a 3-point basket by Jameer Nelson (14 points, nine assists). The last Magic lead was 87-85 after Redick scored. Redick also hit a 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining in the game to pull the Magic within 94-93.

The Magic didn't take their first free throw of the game until midway in the third quarter. They made only 8 of 15, while the Jazz hit 18 of 25.

Orlando led 47-46 at halftime, but it was not a happy locker room. The Magic opened a 34-18 lead early in the second period, but the Jazz stole that momentum by tightening their defense. Utah finished the second quarter with a 15-3 run.

Afflalo had 13 points in the first quarter, hitting six of seven shots, but he failed to score in the second, when he missed all five of his attempts. He was hardly a factor in the second half.

The Magic scored 30 points in the first 12 minutes, the most they have scored in the opening period this season. They were outscored by the Jazz 28-17 in the second quarter, during which they committed seven turnovers.

NOTES: Magic forward Glen Davis was not wearing a sling on his sprained left shoulder, and he hinted that he might be back sooner than the four weeks that were originally projected as his rehabilitation time. "I might have superman powers and come back next week," said Davis, who was hurt Dec. 19. Ayon started in his place Sunday. ... Williams had an MRI early Sunday, but the timetable for his return remains uncertain. ... Orlando used its 10th different starting lineup this season. In Friday's loss at Toronto, the Magic used rookie Andrew Nicholson in place of Davis. With Nicholson and small forward Maurice Harkless playing, it was the first time since April 20, 2005, that the Magic used two rookies together in the starting lineup. The last time, it was Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson. ... The Magic came into the game shooting 79.5 percent from the free-throw line, which is a great improvement after last season, when they shot only 66 percent and Howard led the team in attempts. If the Magic maintain their current pace, they would break the franchise record, which is 75.9 percent, set the season before Howard arrived.
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