SALT LAKE CITY — A look at Wednesday’s Jazz-Magic box score doesn’t portray a pretty picture of Utah teammates Randy Foye and Gordon Hayward. But then again, the game wasn’t really a beauty contest.
In a case of winning ugly — but still winning — the Jazz, behind plays from Foye and Hayward, earned an 87-81 victory over the Orlando Magic at EnergySolutions Arena.
Combined with a herculean effort from center Al Jefferson, who scored a season-high 31 points to go along with 15 rebounds, Utah (10-10) successfully avoided losing its second consecutive home game.
The Jazz led by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter but saw it evaporate with 3:34 left to play. However, seconds later Foye, who hadn’t made a shot all night, hit a 3-pointer to earn back the lead.
Hayward helped preserve that lead when he hit a pair of free throws with 15 seconds remaining. Seconds later he came up with a steal that effectively ended the game.
“There’s no excuse, this is my job,” Foye said. “I’m just happy we got the victory tonight.”
Foye and Hayward combined to go 1-for-13 from the field, statistically speaking a stark contract to what Jefferson did.
Between the three of them, they made sure the Jazz got back on track after dropping two straight on the road and another Monday at home.
“I just do what I get paid to do — go out there and play the way I know how to play,” he said. “Tonight shots were falling. 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 (7-11) had won two in a row on the road, beating the Lakers and Warriors on back-to-back nights. The Jazz looked to put them away early Wednesday, jumping out to a 24-15 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 45-34 lead at halftime.
The Magic came all the way back in the fourth quarter and took a 79-78 lead on Glen Davis’ dunk at the 3:34 mark.
But thanks to Foye’s 3-pointer, the Jazz finished the game on a 9-2.
In addition to Jefferson’s 31 points, Utah got another 22 from Paul Millsap, plus nine points and seven assists from point guard Mo Williams.
Jefferson’s effort was impressive but he have his teammates an anxious moment when he fell to the court after being hit in the lower back while going for a rebound with 1:29 left to play.
Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic appeared to inadvertently kick him in the back. Initially, Jefferson clutched the lower part of his back but then crumpled to the floor and had to be helped back to the locker room.
“I really don’t know (what happened),” he said. “I’ve got to watch it. I don’t know if I landed (wrong), came down awkward or he hit me in my back or whatever, but I really don’t know. The way I feel, I may have came down the wrong way or something.”
Davis led the Magic with 18 points while teammates Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo added 17 and 16 respectively.
Davis also added 12 rebounds and two blocked shots. Guard J.J. Reddick came off the bench to score 14 points in 35 minutes of work.
“You’re not going to shoot the ball well every night,” Mo Williams said. “But every night you can be at your right spots on the defensive end.”
The Jazz shot just 42 percent from the field in the second half and were outscored 47-42.
• INJURY REPORT: Jefferson (back spasms) left the game with 1:29 remaining after inadvertent contact with Orlando center Nikola Vucevic. … Derrick Favors (Plantar fasciitis) did not play. … Marvin Williams (concussion symptoms) was a game-time decision, but played 23 minutes. … The Magic went throughout Al Harrington (right knee) and Hedo Turkogul (left hand).