SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Even with the best record in the NBA, the Utah Jazz are always looking for ways to improve. Donovan Mitchell scored 22 points, and the Jazz set an NBA record for 3-pointers in half in a 137-91 win over the short-handed Orlando Magic on Saturday night, extending their franchise-best home winning streak to 22.
It was also Utah’s ninth straight win overall.
“This is one of those nights for us where we played really well, and we played the right way,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We played a team that is going through a transition. That said, we were happy with the way we played and continued to emphasize our identity as a team,” The Jazz made 18 3-pointers in the first half, setting an NBA record in a season where the Jazz are obliterating all previous franchise long-range shooting marks.
Mitchell made 6 of 7 from beyond the arc to help Utah open a 78-40 advantage at the break.
“They want to really help on the roll. When you have a guy like Rudy (Gobert), they want to help people more, so it was easy to pick that apart and find guys. Then guys just taking shots, that’s really what it was: taking the shots that were given,” Mitchell said. Joe Ingles and Bojan Bogdanovic each had 17 for the Jazz. No Utah player logged more than 24 minutes while all 13 players in uniform scored at least five points.
The Jazz did all this without Mike Conley, Utah’s usual starting point guard who usually sits one side of back-to-back games to rest his right hamstring. Wendell Carter Jr. had 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Magic, making just 2 of 23 from long range. Chuma Okeke had 16. Look, they’re playing as well as anybody in the NBA. We weren’t ready for that. They came out (strong) early … and we didn’t have a lot of answers,” said Orlando coach Steve Clifford.
The Magic actually had more players on the injured list (nine) than they had available to play (eight). Terrence Ross was a late addition to the lineup despite a sore ankle and scored 12 points. “Regardless of who you’re playing, who’s out there, who’s starting, who’s injured, we’re trying to come out and play the same way that we want to play every game … be aggressive defensively, rebound the ball and run,” Ingles said.
The Magic won their previous two games after overhauling their team last week before the trade deadline. Orlando sent away veteran mainstays Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, and Aaron Gordon, who had been with the Magic for more than seven seasons.
With all the injuries and a five-game road trip, the Magic has had little time to work together and form any connectivity. And it showed in spades against the top team in the NBA. Jordan Clarkson, who struggled with his shot, scored 11 of his 15 points in the first quarter as the Jazz led by as many as 20.
The margin first ballooned to 46 when Bogdanovic made a 3 to 92-46 in the third quarter.
Despite tailing off in the final quarter with the reserves, Utah still finished 26 for 54 on 3s. It was 14th for the Jazz with more than 20 3-pointers, which is currently second place all-time for a single season.
Utah also set a franchise record with its 39th straight game scoring 100 points. The previous high-water mark of 38 straight was posted during the 1983-84 season.
The Jazz pick-and-rolls from all angles and easy dribble penetration created a bevy of wide-open perimeter shots, as the Magic were consistently two steps behind Utah’s movements.
MITCHELL PLAYING HIS BEST BASKETBALL
Scoring nearly 30 points a game, shooting better than 43 percent from 3-point range since his second All-Star game, Mitchell feels like he’s hitting his stride, mainly because the Jazz keep winning. “The scoring is what it is for me, but it’s the decision making, that’s really I would say ‘shocking’ me. It’s really getting to a point where I’m like okay, like you’re taking this step, you’re making this leap,” Mitchell said. His play in the NBA playoffs was scintillating, but it ended in a first-round exit, and he feels he’s better about his game now.
“My job is to go out there and put the ball in the basket, but it’s the other things — being a leader, being that guy with the ball in his hands to be able to make smart decisions throughout the entire game. … I would say that this has probably been my best stretch,” Mitchell said.
Magic: Against the Jazz, Orlando has rolled out its 22nd different starting lineup this season and had lost 253 games to injury (1st in NBA) coming into the game. … Orlando went 2 for 12 from 3-point range in the first half while the Jazz set records and missed all of its second-half attempts. … Carter came up limping in the fourth quarter after blocking a shot but continued playing.
Jazz: Utah has won 17 of the last 21 against Orlando, including five in a row. … The Jazz is 8-1 in games with no days of rest this season. … Six Utah players scored in double figures.
Magic: At Denver on Sunday to end a five-game trip.
Jazz: At Dallas on Monday night.
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