NBA Basketball: Utah Jazz at Orlando Magic - Jazz Favored
Orlando looks to rebound from arguably its most disappointing defeat of the season when it hosts the Northwest Division-leading Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.
Already on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the Magic (29-36) didn't help themselves Monday night with a 119-108 loss at last-place Charlotte.
With its third straight defeat and 10th in 12 games, Orlando dropped one game behind Indiana and New York for the eighth and final playoff spot.
"The Bobcats played like they were the team fighting for the playoffs," Orlando's Grant Hill said. "We looked like the team that was out of it."
Dwight Howard had 26 points and 11 rebounds, but 13 of his points came in the fourth quarter when the game was already decided. Hedo Turkoglu added 23 points for the Magic, who were unable to take advantage of a Charlotte team missing leading rebounder and shot blocker Emeka Okafor.
Despite recording his 46th double-double - eight behind league leader Kevin Garnett of Minnesota - Howard wasn't much of a factor on the defensive end, as Primoz Brezec had his highest scoring game in nearly three months with 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting.
"They had the hot hand, but we still had a lot of plays on the defensive side where we didn't step up, or rotate, or communicate with each other," Howard said. "We've just got to play. We've got to play with confidence, I think that's the biggest thing. We have to do that in order to win games and make the playoffs."
After a strong finish in 2005-06 and a 13-4 start this season, the Magic appeared to be an emerging power in the East. Since then, however, they are just 16-32 and in danger of missing the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
Utah (43-20) appeared headed for a seventh straight win Tuesday at Miami with a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, but missed 11 of its 14 shots in the period en route to an 88-86 loss.
"We choked, plain and simple,'' Jazz guard Deron Williams said. "We played good, aggressive basketball, but then we break down and don't do a good job in the fourth quarter. They outplayed us and outhustled us.''
Carlos Boozer had 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Mehmet Okur added 19 and 10 for the Jazz, who had won 14 of 16 before faltering late Tuesday.
Okur's two 3-pointers Tuesday gave him 109 for the season, surpassing Bryon Russell's franchise record of 108 set in 1996-97.
The Magic have won five of the last six meetings with the Jazz, including an 88-75 road victory on Nov. 27. Utah has lost three straight at Orlando since a 111-108 win on March 12, 2003.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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