Lately the Orlando Magic have suffered from poor starts in losing their last two games by big margins. On Friday night, it was the ending that did in the Magic as they fell to the Utah Jazz 87-74 at the Amway Center.
After two blowout losses, Magic Coach Frank Vogel tweaked the starting lineup to insert more defense and hopefully get off to a better start. Jeff Green started in place of Aaron Gordon and the Magic trailed only 42-38 at halftime.
A combination of good defense and some poor shooting kept the game close. Led by D.J. Augustin and Evan Fournier, the Magic took a 64-60 lead into the final period. Then, the proverbial roof feel in.
Utah completely shut down Orlando in the final period, outscoring Orlando 27-10 to get out of town with the victory. The Magic trailed only 75-72 with 5:20 remaining, but could make only one shot the rest of the way.
On the positive side, Augustin had his best game in a Magic uniform, scoring 19 points. Fournier was the only other Orlando player in double figures with 21. Outside of Fournier, the rest of the starters made only seven of 35 shots.
“We’ve got to continue to work on our offensive execution; continue to gel,” said Vogel. “I thought the effort was better. We just have to keep grinding.”
The defensive effort was there for the Magic as they held Utah to only 40 percent shooting. That should normally lead to a win, but Orlando could only shoot 33 percent themselves.
With the improved defensive showing, Vogel will likely stick with having Gordon come off the bench. It is hard to imagine Nikola Vucevic, Elfrid Payton, Serge Ibaka, and Green will have a night like they had on Friday.
Now losers of three straight games, the Magic (3-6) have a tough task in front of them. They head to Oklahoma City on Sunday to face the Thunder.
Ibaka and Augustin will return to their former home for the first time, while the Magic players can say hello to former teammate Victor Oladipo.