Jazz survive another overtime thriller; in position for playoff berth

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The Jazz beat the Orlando Magic in overtime Saturday night at Energy Solutions Arena 117-107 to record their second overtime win in three games to advance one game closer to being the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

“Nothing is easy,” Jazz Head Coach Tyrone Corbin said. “I can’t say enough about this bunch of guys and how they really gutted it out again tonight and laid everything they had on the line.”

Center Al Jefferson led the way for the Jazz with 21 points and 10 rebounds for his third straight double-double. The Magic were without star Dwight Howard, who has been declared out for the rest of the season with a back injury. Glen Davis started in Howard’s place, which gave the Utah frontcourt a size advantage down low.

“Al (Jefferson) was finishing around the rim,” Forward Derrick Favors said. “I came in with the defensive energy and a three guard can’t guard Paul (Millsap) on the post. We just played good.”

Favors also finished with a double-double, going for 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Millsap added 14 and seven respectively.

The Magic started out red hot from beyond the arc, shooting 4 for 7 in the first quarter to give Orlando an early 36-23 lead at the end of the quarter. They finished with 15 made field goals from 3-point range, shooting 42.9 percent on the night.

“We knew we just had to keep playing defense,” Jefferson said. “They were hitting some good shots in the first half, really the whole game. But we knew if we kept playing defense and kept putting a hand in their face, that they were not going to keep making those shots all night.”

The Jazz remained composed, and made a run in the second quarter to tie the game at 55 at halftime. The Magic made another 13-0 run off three straight shots from beyond the arc, but the Jazz were able to make the final run to tie the game at the end of regulation.

“Even when we got down, nobody was discouraged,” Corbin said. “They continued to encourage each other and push their way through it and that’s what we’re going to need. It just shows the great character that this group of guys has.”

Utah outscored Orlando 16-6 in overtime off of two three-pointers from Gordon Hayward and Devin Harris, to seal the game.

With the win and the Phoenix Suns’ loss today, the Jazz move into sole position of the eighth seed in the playoffs with an epic showdown to take place on Tuesday night when the Suns come visit Utah. If the Jazz win that game, they will have secured a spot in the playoffs.

“It feels great,” guard Alec Burks said. “We control our destiny right now and I hope we get another win so we can get into the playoffs. We fight hard all game and if it happens to go into overtime, we have to keep playing.”

The game against the Suns will tip off  at 8:30 and will be televised on TNT.

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