JJ Redick once again provided a spark off the bench, scoring 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting, to help spark a stagnant offense in the first half and help guide Orlando to a 104-99 win over Utah on Monday night. Redick played the entire fourth quarter and scored 11 points in the final period as the Magic broke through and slowly pulled away from the Jazz in the end.
The game got off to a slow start as both teams struggled with turnovers and poor shooting. The score was tied at 40 at halftime and the Magic had 12 turnovers.
It felt like Orlando could have been up more, but silly turnovers and even sillier fouls kept Utah in the game longer than perhaps they should have been. The Jazz were shooting less than 40 percent from the floor in the first half. But they had more than one bizarre possessions where they grabbed offensive rebounds and got fouled again.
That does not include Jason Williams' bizarre double technical foul midway through the third quarter and his subsequent ejection.
After the slow start, though, both teams picked it up quickly. Orlando played decent defense but Deron Williams is just one of the best players in the league and he literally changes the game in a way few players can. If Utah had any 3-point shooters, I think it is safe to say he would have done more to pick Orlando apart.
Williams had 18 points and 12 assists. Not the game he had two weeks ago in Salt Lake City, but still very solid. It helped Paul Milsap score 20 points off the bench and 17 points for Carlos Boozer.
But in the shootout of the second half, the Jazz had no answer to stop the Magic. For a change, Orlando attacked the basket and did a very good job getting to the line. The Magic hit 31 of 41 free throws and Dwight Howard hit 11 of his 15. Paired with their 9-for-21 shooting from beyond the arc -- a good bunch of it in the second quarter when they built a nine-point lead and in the fourth quarter when they took the lead for good -- the Magic were a tough team for the Jazz to defend.
Howard had it going at the line and despite some early foul trouble, he got 21 points and nine boards. Rashard Lewis added 18 and Vince Carter, while not breaking out of his "mini slump", scored 15.
This was an odd game if you look at the box score. It felt the entire way through like the Magic were ready to break out and take a big lead. But they never did. Every time Orlando got close, it seemed it would be followed by a turnover, a bad shot or the Jazz would get a long possession.
The highlight of the oddity was when Rashard Lewis had an inbound pass stolen by Ronnie Brewer after a made basket. Utah got a four-point play and it was not the only one they had on the night.
The Jazz shot 40.4 percent (to the Magic's 48.5 percent) but took 23 more shots than the Magic despite being outrebounded and grabbing only three more offensive rebounds. Adding that the Jazz had 15 turnovers to the Magic's 16, and it is puzzling to figure out how the Jazz hung around in this one.
What Stan Van Gundy and this team can be happy with was that for the second straight game, Orlando had to really get down and fight against a quality opponent. The team could not win this one pretty with finesse and 3-point shooting. It once again took all their grit and determination.