The Utah Jazz won their second game in a row, a feat they had not accomplished yet this season, and did so with a dominant first quarter where the Jazz went up by +12 on the road against the Orlando Magic. This was a paypack game where last time these two teams faced off the Magic fought hard and held off the Jazz on the Jazz home court. Particularly the last game was predicated by two things: a) the Magic's replacement bigs were making shots early and often in the place of injured Nikola Vucevic, and b) Tobias Harris drank Gordon Hayward's milkshake. In this game the replacement bigs went 2 / 6 from the field, and well, Tobias Harris did have a good game, but Gordon did too.
Sorry this is so late, first of all, I guess I am writing enough pieces from airports right now to almost qualify as a beat intern.
The Jazz dominated the first quarter, and went up by 17 in the early second quarter. The Magic did not appear to have an answer for the Dante Exum, Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood, Trevor Booker, Rudy Gobert lineup -- but as soon as Hayward went to the bench for Joe Ingles Orlando went on a face-saving 16-5 run. Still, the Jazz were in control of this game for almost the entire 48 minutes.
At halftime the score got "almost close" again, but in the third Utah would power through to 8-3 and 11-2 runs on their way to up the lead back up to 17 points. That was really all she wrote.
Orlando made another run, a 6-0 run, in the 4th quarter -- but they would not get any close than 7 for the rest of the game. (More or less, they did make it a 6 point game at times...) The Magic remained in 'somewhat striking distance' by shooting very well from deep (12/22, 54.5%), and by taking care of the ball (only 12 turn overs). The return of Nikola Vucevic should have been a bigger deal, but his 16 and 9 were inferior in the head to head match-up with Derrick Favors and his 23, 10, and 2 blocks. They both had 3 assists as well, but I think Favors was key towards winning the paint.
Gordon Hayward *kinda* won his match-up against Tobias Harris -- Harris had 24 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. Gordon was much more efficient in his 20 points, 3 rebound, 6 assist game. Harris put up 24 on 18 shots, Hayward had 20 in 10 shots. Hayward's ability to get to the line was key, as he went 9/10 from the stripe.
The Magic were a three star act with Evan Fournier blasting off for 21 points (4/6 from deep); and 4 assists. I knew he would have a good game (re-read the preview!), but the Jazz didn't answer with one player, but instead with depth. Alec Burks had 8 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists; Trey Burke added 11 points and 5 assists (1 turn over); and Rodney Hood came off the bench to net 9 and had some nifty drives and displayed some of his court vision.
But at the end of the day we knew that if the Jazz were to win they would do it on the inside. There continues to be no answer to Rudy Gobert -- while he only played 14 minutes, he still finished with a 6/3/1/2 line and shot 100%.
The Jazz played two good games in a row. Can they go for three? They play the Charlotte Hornets tonight for game five of their six game pre-Christmas road trip.