Jazz Display New Ability To Overwhelm Offensively In Win Over Magic

Jan 4, 2020, 9:01 PM | Updated: 11:20 pm
Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz...
Donovan Mitchell handles the ball for the Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

ORLANDO, Florida – The Utah Jazz defeated the Orlando Magic 109-96, largely due to a barrage of three-point shots in the fourth quarter. After a slow start to the season, the Jazz have established their identity as a three-point shooting team and are overwhelming teams in the process. 

The Story

The last time the Jazz were in south Florida, they changed their identity, trading Dante Exum for Jordan Clarkson before facing the Miami Heat. Then waiving Jeff Green immediately following the 107-104 loss. 

On Saturday night in Orlando, the Jazz enjoyed the fruits of their identity change and engulfed the Magic in a fourth-quarter runaway victory. The suddenly unbeatable roster hit nine fourth-quarter threes to blow the Magic off the floor and cement their identity as the best shooting team in the NBA. 

The Jazz entered the night shooting 38.8 percent from three, more than a full percentage point ahead of the number two ranked Heat. For context, the second-ranked Heat lead the 30th ranked Atlanta Hawks by a total of just six percentage points. 

Georges Niang has shifted from playing small forward minutes alongside Green to playing predominantly as a backup power forward and has seen his production take off. Against Orlando, Niang finished with 15 points on 5-8 shooting from deep, and the Jazz were 13 points better than the Magic when he was on the floor. 

Niang even earned a nickname from Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell.

“Georges Niang man, OTA Georges. He’s come along way in his career being doubted and whatnot,” Mitchell said, ”Nights like this just show how valuable he is to our team.”

OTA is short for Organized Team Activities, a period before the season begins that players gather to work on their game at the team’s practice facility without coaches present. Niang has earned a spot in the NBA with excellent play during the OTA period. 

Niang has hit 12-22 from deep since Green was waived, good for 54 percent. 

Clarkson had arguably his worst performance in five outings with the Jazz, and still added seven points, and the Jazz were four points better with him on the floor. 

For the third straight outing, the Jazz second unit outscored their opponent. The Jazz beat the Magic bench 41-39 and outscored opponents by 16 points in their last three outings.

“I think we have guys that generally love each other,” Mitchell said of the bench, “And I don’t use that word lightly.”

The Jazz three-point shooting is a significant advantage for the Jazz every night they step on the floor, and it appears to be improving. Since the trade, the Jazz are shooting 40.7 percent from three as a team.

The Orlando Magic had stuck with the Jazz through three quarters and trailed by just one point entering the fourth quarter. The Magic defense had solved the Jazz offensive actions and was preventing Quin Snyder’s offense from executing their sets. 

“We have balance on our team, so it can be different guys every night,” Snyder said, “This is a group that enjoys when someone else steps up, and thats unique.” 

As a result, the Jazz were shooting just 43 percent from the floor and 29 percent from deep and appeared to be headed towards a tough finish against a Magic team that had won each of its last two games by at least 20 points. 

Instead, the Jazz opened the fourth quarter with five made threes in six possessions and ended the game before the Magic knew what hit them. 

“The biggest thing is we shot 21 threes [in the second half],’’ Snyder said of the Jazz late-game scoring, “That’s the key, if you’re getting looks you just can’t hesitate and eventually you’re going to make some of them.“ 

In a league driven by three-point shots, the Jazz ability to overwhelm teams has unlocked devastating offensive weapon for a franchise that had cut its teeth on its defensive identity over the each of the previous two seasons. 

The Game

Much like the fourth quarter, the Jazz began the game with sharp three-point shooting and built up a 33-25. The Jazz began the game shooting 4-9 from three. 

For the first time in several weeks, the Jazz bench struggled against the opponent’s second unit. Terrence Ross dragged the Magic back from a double-digit deficit with 15 first-half points on 6-9 shooting. 

Mo Bamba added five points, four rebounds, two steals and a block in 8:41 first-half minutes, and the Jazz lead by just five going into the second half. 

Donovan Mitchell was the Jazz leading scorer at the half with 14 points, having added adding eight of the team’s 19 points in the second quarter to carry the offensive load when the Magic’s defense was at its best. 

Mitchell and Emmanuel Mudiay did the lion’s share fo the work on the offensive end of the floor in the third quarter, combining for 14 of the Jazz 22 points on 5-10 shooting. 

“I’m trying to be aggressive from the jump,” Mitchell said, “Just being able to find my spots, being engaged early.”

Mitchell would finish with a game-high 32 points on 14-21 shooting. Mudiay added 12. 

In total, the Jazz doubled their three-point makes in the fourth quarter, having made eight entering the final period and finishing with 16 makes overall. The Jazz scored 33 points in the fourth quarter, matching their first-quarter total and left Orlando with an easy victory. 

The Big Picture

The Jazz have won 10 of 11 games overall, and five straight and hold a 23-12 record overall. As of December 2, the Jazz were 4-8 on the road and appeared to be a team that would struggle to win games away from home. 

Since that loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Jazz are 6-1 on the road and now hold a 10-9 record away from Salt Lake City. The Jazz are one of just nine NBA teams with a winning record on the road so far this season, and their 10 wins away from home are tied for fifth-best in the NBA. The team has won three straight games over playoff teams on the opposing home floor.

With the win, the Jazz pulled ahead of the Dallas Mavericks and now sit alone in the fifth seed in the West.

Mitchell had his 11th 30+ point game of the season for the Jazz in just his 34th game of the season. It took the third guard until February 27 last season to achieve that number, his 56th game of the season. 

The Jazz travel to New Orleans to take on the Pelicans to wrap up their current three-game road trip Monday. The Jazz beat the Pelicans 128-120 in Salt Lake City on November 23.

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Jazz Display New Ability To Overwhelm Offensively In Win Over Magic