ORLANDO, Fla. – Donovan Mitchell scored 31 points and Joe Ingles filled in well again at point guard in place of Mike Conley to help the Utah Jazz beat the Orlando Magic 124-109 on Saturday night.
Utah bounced back from a loss a night earlier in Miami, improving to 6-1 following a defeat. The NBA-leading Jazz have lost consecutive games just once all season and not since Jan. 6 when they were 4-4.
“We’re not allowed to be tired, for one thing,” said Utah coach Quin Snyder, whose team improved to 5-1 this season on the second night of a back-to-backs.
Mitchell shook off a scoreless first quarter and scored 25 of his 31 points in the second half. He 15 points in the third quarter when Utah pushed a four-point halftime lead out to as much as 14. The Jazz improved to 25-0 when leading after three periods and won by double digits for an NBA-best 23rd time this season.
“I had a few lapses in the first half and a few bad shots and then it was like, `OK, this is what I see,'” said Mitchell, who made 9 of 13 shots after halftime. “At the end of the day, I’ve seen every coverage and it’s just about adjusting.”
Ingles had 17 points, six assists and three 3-pointers. The Jazz are 7-0 this season when he starts at point guard in place of Conley, who was out with right hamstring injury management. That’s the same injury that kept the point guard out from Feb. 2-12, a six-game stretch where Utah won each game with Ingles sharing ball-handling duties with Mitchell.
“I try to play the same game, but I realize I’m going to have the ball more in certain situations,” said Ingles, who had four assists to center Rudy Gobert in the first half. “I’m just making sure I’m getting guys involved and getting them in the right spots.”
Gobert had 12 points and 16 rebounds. Jordan Clarkson, the NBA’s top-scoring reserve, had 18 points for Utah, which shot 52.9% and made 17 of 45 3-pointers.
Magic All-Star center Nikola Vucevic scored 34 points, but missed out on his 24th double-double by two rebounds. Orlando was pounded 52-37 on the glass and surrendered 24 second-chance points to the Jazz.
“That was the key tonight, giving up 24 against a team that’s already the best team offensively right now in the NBA,” Vucevic said.
Evan Fournier (16 points) and Terrence Ross (10 points) combined to shoot just 11 of 36 from the floor and made only 1 of 13 from 3-point range.
Veteran referee Bill Kennedy was forced to leave the game with 2:48 remaining in the first half because of an apparent back injury, leaving an inexperienced crew on the floor. Natalie Sago, one of five female referees in the NBA, is in her second season as a full-time referee, while Nate Green is in his first NBA season after four years in the G League. Kennedy did not return in the second half.
Jazz: Utah, which came in to the game averaging 42.7 3-point shot attempts a game, got up 20 shots from beyond the arc in the game’s first 17 minutes. … The Jazz missed their first six free throw attempts of the game.
Magic: James Ennis III did not play because of a sore calf, allowing Dwayne Bacon to start for a fourth time. … If the Magic are going to make the playoffs a third straight year, they are going to have to do it against the NBA’s toughest remaining schedule. Twenty of their 36 games after the All-Star break will be on the road and there are nine back-to-backs. … Mo Bamba (11 points) had the highlight of the night when he caught an off-target alley-oop pass with his left hand and dunked.
Jazz: At New Orleans on Monday night.
Magic: Host Dallas on Monday night.