Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/6/12
SALT LAKE CITY -- Back spasms were the only thing that could slow center Al Jefferson on Wednesday night. Before leaving in agony with 1:29 remaining, Jefferson scored a season-high 31 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to lead the Utah Jazz to an 87-81 victory over the Orlando Magic at EnergySolutions Arena. "I don't know if I landed (wrong), came down awkward or (Nikola Vucevic) hit me in my back or whatever," said Jefferson, officially listed as day-to-day. "The way I feel, I may have come down the wrong way." Jefferson played the right way before the injury, scoring 23 second-half points while helping the Jazz improve to 10-10 and snap a three-game losing skid. The 6-10 center had scored two big buckets to help the Jazz squelch an Orlando comeback attempt before needing assistance to the training room from trainer Gary Briggs and backup point guard Jamaal Tinsley. Before going out, Jefferson grabbed a key defensive rebound, grabbed his back, took several steps and then fell to the court in pain as the Jazz called a timeout. Jefferson said he'll be back by Friday's home game against Toronto. "I just do what I get paid to do -- go out there and play the way I know how to play. Tonight, shots were falling," he said. "Of course, we don't need to go down four games in a row. No disrespect to Orlando. But they're the type of team you can attack on the inside and that's what I did." Orlando dropped to 7-11 after its two-game Western win streak was brought to an end. The Magic momentarily took a lead at 79-78 with 3:34 remaining in the fourth quarter after a Glen Davis dunk capped a turnaround from a 14-point deficit. "I thought we had a good fight. Utah just made some really big shots down the stretch," Orlando guard Arron Afflalo said. "We're trying to do a better job of sharing the ball. Just unfortunate we lost tonight." Davis finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds for Orlando, which is on a five-game road trip. Jameer Nelson added 17 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Magic, while Afflalo scored 16 points for the visitors. The Jazz held the Magic to 34 first-half points, a season-low for a Utah opponent. But Orlando kept chipping away in the second half, using an 8-0 run in the third quarter and a 6-0 spurt in the fourth to make a game of it after trailing by 11 at the half. Randy Foye missed his first five shots for Utah, but he hit a big 3-pointer with 3:13 remaining to give the Jazz the lead for good after Davis' dunk. "We played good defense on our end and they almost threw it out of bounds and then Randy Foye hits a three," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "Sometimes the basketball bounces your way and sometimes it doesn't." Jefferson then hit two consecutive shots, putting Utah up 85-81 with 1:52 remaining. The Jazz won the game despite only scoring 19 points in the fourth quarter. Jefferson hit 13 of 20 shots before leaving. "He was going very well," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "When he's going like he was going tonight, he's pretty difficult to deal with." Forward Paul Millsap also had a strong outing for Utah, finishing with 22 points, four rebounds and three blocked shots. NOTES: This was former Jazz guard Jacque Vaughn's first visit to Utah since being hired as the Magic's head coach. "A lot of friendships, relationships, a lot of winning, some really good memories," Vaughn said while looking around his first NBA home. ... Vaughn was drafted by the Jazz in 1997 and played in Utah through 2001. The work ethic of Hall of Famers John Stockton and Karl Malone left a lasting impression. "(John) was in line in front of me in every single drill, and Karl was unbelievable." The new coach also holds retired Jazz coach Jerry Sloan in high esteem. Vaughn called him "an unbelievable coach" who taught him to be professional and imprinted one thought in his young mind: "Bring my hard hat every day." ... Jazz power forward Derrick Favors (strained right arch) didn't play for the third consecutive game and hopes to resume activity by Friday. ... Starting small forward Marvin Williams returned to the lineup for the Jazz after missing three games with concussion-like symptoms.
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