After losing to the Boston Celtics Wednesday night, the Orlando Magic will continue their late-season road trip in Utah against the Jazz Saturday night. The Jazz are coming off a couple of big wins – they defeated the Dallas Mavericks in triple overtime Monday, then got a 112-91 win over the Trail Blazers in Portland. The Jazz are now 33-30, fighting with the Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets for the eight seed. Orlando enters with a record of 36-26. The jazz are tied with the Phoenix Suns, while the Magic are 3.5 games ahead of the New York Knicks for the sixth seed, meaning their magic number to clinch the six seed is one.
This is the first meeting of the season between these two teams.
The Magic rank 15th in offensive rating (105.2), 12th in defensive rating (103.5) and play at the league’s fifth-slowest pace (89.2). The Jazz are eighth in offensive rating (106.7), 12th in defensive rating (103.5) and play at the 12th-fastest pace (91.4).
Tip-off from the EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah is scheduled for 10:30 pm EST and will be shown locally on FS Florida and nationally on ESPN.
The officials for tonight’s game are Marc Davis, Bennie Adams and Kevin Fehr.
The Line: Utah – 10 (194.5)
The Utah Jazz have a distinct size advantage with not only starting Center Dwight Howard out, but wing Hedo Tukroglu as well. Utah’s wings are both 6’8 (DeMarre Carroll and Gordon Hayward) while Orlando starts 6’6 Jason Richardson and 6’4 J.J. Redick. Hayward is averaging 12.0 points per game. Carroll is going for just 4.9 ppg but has scored in double digits twice in his last five games.
The Jazz are led by the big man duo of Al Jefferson (19.4 ppg, 9.6 rebounds per game) and Paul Millsapp (16.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg). They should present a lot of problems for Glen Davis and Ryan Anderson. Second-year man Derrick Favors, the #3 overall pick in the 2010 draft, has shown flashes and is averaging 8.5 ppg and 6.4 rpg off of the Jazz bench. Rookie Enes Kanter, the #3 overall pick in the 2011 draft, has appeared in all 63 games and is averaging 4.4 ppg ad 4.2 rpg while playing 13.0 minutes per game.
If the Magic are going to defeat the Jazz and help spoil their playoff hopes, Jameer Nelson is going to have to win his matchup with Devin Harris (11.3 ppg, 5.1 apg). Harris, once an All-Star, has struggled this season.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him onTwitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)