Af­ter of­fense erupts, road mo­men­tum sought

Magic head to Utah to face Jazz team with a sim­i­lar makeup

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS TUESDAY - By Roy Parry

SALT LAKE CITY – Af­ter his team gath­ers a de­fen­sive re­bound and be­gins to head up the floor, you can of­ten hear Or­lando Magic coach Steve Clif­ford call­ing out, “Pace!”

Clif­ford wants his team to quickly get into its half­court set. From there, ball move­ment be­gins and good shots usu­ally fol­low.

In­creased pace and ball move­ment were on dis­play in Sun­day’s 130-119 win at the Pelicans as the Magic posted sea­son-highs for points and 3-point­ers (17).

They also recorded 32 as­sists and put eight play­ers in dou­ble fig­ures, ty­ing the fran­chise mark.

The team’s 3-point shoot­ing, for the most part, came from the flow of of­fense. Or­lando was 11 of 17 from be­hind the arc in the sec­ond half.

“They got good shots and they made them,” Clif­ford told re­porters on Mon­day af­ter the team prac­ticed at the Univer­sity of Utah. “Ob­vi­ously when you shoot the ball like that, it makes ev­ery­thing else eas­ier.”

They could use a sim­i­lar shoot­ing per­for­mance on Tues­day night when they face the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. It’s the sec­ond of a four-game road trip for Or­lando.

The game tips off at 9 p.m. and will air on Fox Sports Florida. And as they did Sun­day in New Or­leans, the Magic will wear their City Edi­tion uni­forms.

The Jazz are 10-3 at home but

have slipped lately, los­ing two of their past four games. Still, the Jazz are a for­mi­da­ble op­po­nent. With big man Der­rick Fa­vors now in New Or­leans, the Jazz fea­ture more shoot­ers around cen­ter Rudy Gobert. They can spread teams out more, cre­at­ing more driv­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for shoot­ing guard and lead­ing scorer Dono­van Mitchell (25.0 ppg). He av­er­ages 16.2 drives into the paint per game.

More space also ben­e­fits Jazz for­ward Bo­jan Bog­danovic, who seems to save his best for the Magic.

In 15 ca­reer games against Or­lando, Bog­danovic has av­er­aged 18.7 points while shoot­ing 53.1% from the field — both his top marks against any op­po­nent. He also shoots 43.9% from the 3-point line against Or­lando.

Bog­danovic, who signed with the Jazz as a free agent dur­ing the off­sea­son, is av­er­ag­ing a ca­reer-best 20.8 points per game and shoot­ing 45.6% from be­hind the arc with a team-best 83 3-point­ers. He’s ac­tu­ally shoot­ing bet­ter on his 3-point at­tempts than on his 2-point at­tempts.

Utah point guard Mike Con­ley, also a threat to drive the ball into the paint, has missed five straight games with a ham­string in­jury. Con­ley has been tack­ling his re­hab with an ag­gres­sive ap­proach and could re­turn for Tues­day’s game, ac­cord­ing to Eric Walden of the Salt Lake City Tri­bune.

Tues­day’s game will be the first meet­ing be­tween the Magic and the Jazz this sea­son but it won’t be long be­fore they wrap up their sea­son se­ries. They are sched­uled to play again Jan. 4 in Or­lando.

Bamba de­liv­ers early en­ergy plays: It didn’t take long for Mo Bamba to make an im­pact dur­ing Sun­day’s win in New Or­leans.

The 7-foot cen­ter re­placed Nikola Vuce­vic at the 3:39 mark of the first quar­ter and 4 sec­onds later he grabbed the re­bound af­ter Ter­rence Ross missed a 15-foot jumper. Bamba was off with his fol­low-up jump hook but he grabbed that miss and con­verted it into a bas­ket from 2 feet away.

Early in the sec­ond quar­ter, Bamba was on the of­fen­sive glass again. This time he grabbed a miss by Aaron Gor­don and turned it into a layup. Bamba’s hus­tle turned into a three-point play when he was fouled by the Pelicans’ Fa­vors and made the en­su­ing free throw.

“That’s what Coach harps on me about, just get­ting out there and just adding a spark. I think those two plays were def­i­nitely in the right di­rec­tion,” Bamba said.

Bamba’s play also made it a lit­tle eas­ier to limit the min­utes for Vuce­vic, who was play­ing in his first game since Nov. 20 af­ter re­cov­er­ing from an an­kle in­jury. In just 17 min­utes, Bamba scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shoot­ing, in­clud­ing a 2-of-3 ef­fort from the 3-point line, and grabbed six re­bounds.

Bamba knocked down a 3 and a 12-foot base­line jumper to help key a fourth-quar­ter spurt that built a 25-point lead for the Magic.

Over his past 12 games, with 11 of those com­ing while Vuce­vic was out with an an­kle in­jury, Bamba has av­er­aged 8.3 points, shoot­ing 52.7% from the field and 50.0% from the 3-point line.

Bamba said he’s in a good place with his game and is play­ing more freely.

“Just get­ting out there and let­ting loose and shoot­ing the ball with con­fi­dence,” he said.

GERALD HER­BERT/AP

Ter­rence Ross and the Magic put up a sea­son-high 130 points on Sun­day against the Pelicans. Or­lando will con­tinue its four-game road trip against West­ern Con­fer­ence foes Tues­day night in Utah.

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