With the victory, Utah continues its late-season rise and strengthens its hold on the final playoff spot in the west. The Jazz now improve to 7-4 in the month of April. One more win against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday will secure Utah’s postseason position.
“We’re controlling our destiny right now. Hopefully we get this last win so we get to the playoffs,” said a confident Alec Burks.
Both the Jazz and the Magic played to their strengths in tonight’s matchup. While nearly every Orlando player was launching threes, the Jazz were using their size to score inside.
Utah finished the game with 62 points in the paint, as Utah’s frontcourt had one of its best nights of the season. Al Jefferson (21 points, 10 rebounds) and Derrick Favors (16 points, 11 rebounds) both finished with double-doubles. Paul Millsap added 18 points, while Enes Kanter had nine points on 4-of-5 shooting. In fact, while Jefferson, Favors, and Millsap were on the floor together, Utah outscored the Magic 71-37.
Though the frontcourt played well, it was the combined bench effort that gave the Jazz a chance to win. In another slow start, the Jazz allowed the Magic to shoot 65% and score 36 points in the opening period. Thanks to 24 second-quarter bench points, the Jazz fought back from 14 points down to even the score at half time.
“Our bench really helped us tonight. Without our bench … we wouldn’t have won this game,” DeMarre Carroll affirmed.
The win certainly did not come easy for the Jazz, as they seemed to have no answer for the Magic’s starting point guard, Jameer Nelson. Nelson picked apart Utah’s defense with his steady dribble penetration. He finished the game with 23 points to go along with 11 assists. Nelson fittingly tried to finish the Jazz in regulation with a last-second three pointer but was blocked by Utah’s Devin Harris.
Finding themselves in familiar territory, the Jazz took advantage of the overtime period. In the extended minutes, Utah shot 65% and nailed two critical three-point baskets.
Now, the Jazz will welcome the Phoenix Suns to Salt Lake City for a playoff-berth showdown on Tuesday.