It seems like just the other day we were writing about the Utah Jazz’s monumental comeback effort, fueled by Paul Millsap, against the Miami Heat. Well, that is because we were. So what could the Jazz even think of doing for an encore? I mean seriously, after their 22 point overtime comeback there is not much that can equal its luster. Plus, the Jazz had to play against Orlando the next day. This had all the signs of a 1-1 trip through America’s wang. Utah had other ideas.
The Jazz went into the Amway Center having played the most memorable game of the season. Of course, the Magic, at home, wanted to spoil the high note that the Jazz were riding. Orlando came out rolling and posted an 18 point lead with a minute and a half left in the third quarter. Unfortunately, the Magic did not realize that the Jazz had them right where they wanted them.
Crank up the dejavu switch to 11. Utah came storming back as most of their players had a hand in erasing the deficit. Millsap was active, scoring five points and grabbing a rebound during the run. Kyrylo Fesenko also contributed five points while Raja Bell scored two while getting a rebound and an assist. C.J. Miles added a pair of rebounds and assists as well. However, it was Utah’s star players that turned the tides.
Andrei Kirilenko contributed five points, three rebounds, and an assist during the spurt. Al Jefferson added nine points, many on second chance opportunities, and a rebound. However, the catalyst of the comeback was point guard Deron Williams. During their 13 and a half minute run, Williams scored 22 of his 30 points, had three rebounds, and dished out six assists.
It was not just the will of the Jazz which helped them pull out another comeback. Jerry Sloan switched from man-to-man to zone defense which completely boggled the Magic during Utah’s run. Apparently, Stan Van Gundy has no answer for a simple zone defense. The Jazz also used zone defense against Miami in their comeback the night before. It appears as if Sloan is taking advantage of teams by defending them the simplest way possible. Since teams tend to not even practice against the zone it is genius. Sloan is a mastermind.
Rallies are becoming old hat for the Jazz as this is the third game in a row that they have won in comeback fashion. They came back from 18 down against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night. I guess all these teams forgot that you never count out a Jerry Sloan coached team. Maybe they should remember that next time around. Utah outscored Orlando 39-20 in the final quarter.
Millsap finished the game with 23 points and Jefferson had 21 for the Jazz. Vince Carter finished with 20 points to lead the Magic who shot 43 percent from the field for the game. This was Orlando’s first home loss of the season.