Jazz survive late rally to beat Magic 97-93


Jazz survive late rally to beat Magic 97-93

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Paul Millsap scored 18 points, Gordon Hayward added 17 and the Utah Jazz survived a fourth-quarter rally to slip past the Orlando Magic 97-93 on Sunday night.

Orlando cut the lead to one in the waning seconds, but came up empty at the foul line attempting to tie it.

Utah snapped a two-game losing streak with its fifth consecutive regular-season victory over Orlando. The Jazz played without point guard Mo Williams, who is out indefinitely with a thumb injury.

Arron Afflalo had 20 points, and Nik Vucevic added 16 points and 16 rebounds to lead Orlando, which has dropped back-to-back games since losing starting forward Glen Davis to a shoulder injury.

The loss also ended the Magic's three-game home winning streak.

Orlando led 73-71 entering the fourth quarter, but the Jazz scored the first seven points of the period and took a 78-73 lead with just over 10 minutes to play.

J.J. Redick hit a fadeaway jumper to put the Magic back on top 87-85 before back-to-back 3's by Utah's Jamaal Tinsley and Randy Foye nudged the Jazz back in front 91-87 with 2:19 left.

Trailing 92-90, Orlando rebounded a miss by Millsap with less than a minute to play and called a timeout. The Magic ran a set play for Afflalo, but his 12-foot jumper was blocked by Hayward and recovered by the Jazz.

Foye was then fouled and hit a pair of free throws to push the lead back to four.

Redick hit a 3-pointer out of a timeout to cut it back to one, and Millsap hit only 1 of 2 at the free throw line after getting fouled with 10.1 seconds remaining.

Jameer Nelson pushed the ball upcourt and found Gustavo Ayon underneath, who was immediately fouled by Foye. Ayon missed the first free throw and his intentional miss on the second was rebounded by Tinsley, who hit a pair from the stripe for the final margin.

With Davis sitting for the second straight game since spraining his left shoulder last week, Magic coach Jacque Vaughn started the second-year big man Ayon in his place - his first start of the season. Davis is out indefinitely, with his return dependent on the progress he makes during rehabilitation.

Vaughn had gone with rookie Andrew Nicholson in Davis' place during the Magic's loss to Toronto on Friday, but struggled from the field in just 19 minutes of action. Ayon came on as a reserve in that game and posted a double-double.

At 6-foot-10, Ayon gave the Magic a size advantage over the 6-8 Millsap. Ayon finished with nine points and 12 rebounds, but Millsap clearly won the night.

The Jazz also had to adjust their starting lineup Sunday, inserting the veteran Tinsley at point guard for Williams, who sprained his right thumb in Saturday's loss at Miami. Williams' return in unknown after an MRI on Sunday revealed damage to the thumb. He will have it re-evaluated back in Salt Lake City.

The Magic took a 47-46 advantage into halftime, but led by as many as 16 in the opening 24 minutes.

Afflalo had 13 points in the first half to lead Orlando, which outscored Utah 16-14 in the paint and 13-8 on second-chance points.

Utah battled back, though, connecting on 4 of 9 from the 3-point line.

Millsap led the Jazz with 10 first-half points.

Notes: Sunday was the fifth game this season Williams has missed due to injury. He missed one game in early November with a strained right abductor and three games late last month with a sprained right foot. ... The Magic teamed with Chase and ``Operation Homefront'' at halftime to surprise Army Sergeant First Class Paul Hiltibidal and his family with a new, mortgage-free home and a $2,500 check to help provide holiday gifts for their four children. While fighting in Afghanistan, Hiltibidal was injured and retired from the Army earlier this year.

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Road ahead suggests a wild finish in Eastern Conference playoff race

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Road ahead suggests a wild finish in Eastern Conference playoff race

The Eastern Conference standings are so closely bunched as of today that the third-place Cleveland Cavaliers are only 1 1/2 games ahead of the sixth-place Philadelphia 76ers. With roughly a dozen games remaining for each NBA team, much can and likely will change over the next several weeks.

That is common for this time of the year, but a closer look suggests we could be in for some chaos in the final stretch. There are lopsided remaining schedules and impending personnel changes which could all contribute to one of the wildest regular season finishes in recent memory.

The Wizards are smack dab in the middle of the East playoff race and have their own circumstances to navigate. Let's take a team-by-team look at the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, knowing the top two seeds are all but locked up by the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics...


3. Cleveland Cavaliers (41-29, 12 games left)

Monday was a crazy day for the Cavaliers. First, they announced their head coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence to deal with an undiagnosed health issue. He will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim as he hopes to heal up before the playoffs.

Then, news broke they were getting Kevin Love back from a broken wrist after missing 21 games. Love returned to put up 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks in a big win over the Milwaukee Bucks. 

The Cavaliers will be without their coach for an undefined period of time, but now have their second-best player back on the court. That makes their final part of the season extra fascinating.

The Cavs are the team to watch of this group. Even though this season has been filled with turmoil, they still have LeBron James. He and Love have helped form the core of the last three Eastern Conference champion teams. If they pick things up, it's not crazy to consider them among the favorites to get out of the East again.


4. Indiana Pacers (41-30, 11 games left)

The Pacers are mostly healthy as they only feature a slew of minor injuries to big men Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. But Indiana's remaining schedule is unusually tough and it could make the difference in where they end up.

With only 11 games remaining, the Pacers still have to play the first-place Toronto Raptors once and the Golden State Warriors twice. Six of their last eight games will be on the road. They also see the Heat, Pelicans, Nuggets and Clippers.

The Clippers are currently ninth in the West and battling to make the playoffs. The Pacers will play them twice.

Keep in mind the Wizards own the season series over Indiana and will have a playoff seeding tiebreaker if they end up with the same record. Also worth noting is the Pacers have been much better at home (24-13) than on the road (17-17) this season.


5. Washington Wizards (40-30, 12 games left)

Though the Wizards' schedule is finally letting up soon from the 13 straight playoff teams stretch they have had to endure dating back to February, they too have a tough road ahead. The Wizards still have to play the Spurs (twice), Rockets, Cavaliers, Celtics and Nuggets. Four of their last six games are on the road and they have three back-to-back sets in their final seven games.

That's brutal. They may not have to see the defending champions twice like Indiana does, but the Wizards don't exactly have it easy.

The Wizards will, however, get John Wall back at some point. The five-time All-Star is slowly but surely working his way back and could participate in a full practice by the end of the week. Ideally they will get some games under his belt before the playoffs, but any time an All-NBA player is coming back to your team it's a good thing.

The problem is that there is little room for error in the standings and head coach Scott Brooks will have to reinsert Wall into the lineup during a tough schedule and while Wall is on a minutes restriction. It will be a tricky task to balance his lineups. 


6. Philadelphia 76ers (39-30, 13 games left)

The Sixers may have the most ideal road ahead of these four teams, at least in terms of their schedule. They still have the Timberwolves, Nuggets, Cavs and Bucks. But none of those teams are the juggernauts that Golden State, Houston and Toronto are. And of their final 13 games, the Sixers will play nine against teams outside of the playoff picture.

Philly also does not have to reincorporate a major piece into their rotation, like the Cavs do with Love and the Wizards with Wall. Their biggest injury is to Markelle Fultz, the 2017 No. 1 overall pick. If he does return this season, it will likely be in a minimal role, at least to start.

What could work against the Sixers is their inexperience and recent struggles against good teams. The Sixers are relying on very young players who have never been here before to carry the way. And since Valentine's Day, Philly has just one win against a team above the .500 mark, when they beat the Cavs on March 1. During those 14 games since Feb. 14, they have beaten up on the bad teams but lost to the Wizards, Bucks, Pacers and Heat (twice), basically all the teams surrounding them in the standings. 

Philly also lost their season series against the Cavs and Pacers, tied with the Wizards and are down 2-1 against the Bucks with one game to go. They may go to the finish line without a playoff tiebreaker against all the teams they would want one against.

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

It looks like Ryant Grant has found his new home, again.

After a failed physical with the Ravens, James Jones of NFL Network reports Grant plans to sign with the Colts.


Grant originally agreed to a four-year, $29 million deal with the Ravens, before the team pulled the offer citing an ankle injury that dated to the Redskins' final regular-season game, according to reports.

Baltimore eventually signed Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal, while Grant had visits with the Colts and Raiders.

His agent, Rocky Arceneaux, says Grant has been working out, running routes, and his ankle had been cleared by Dr. Robert Anderson in a second opinion.

In 2017 with the Redskins, he appeared in all 16 games, with 45 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns.