Magic hope to get Paolo Banchero back vs. Jazz

The Utah Jazz might face another team without its best player when they travel to take on the Orlando Magic on Thursday night.

That might not be the advantage it would seem to be, judging by recent performances of both teams.

On Tuesday, the Jazz struggled against the Atlanta Hawks as they began a three-game Eastern road trip. Despite not having injured Trae Young, the Hawks jumped to a 12-0 lead and never trailed en route to a 124-97 blowout over Utah.

Meanwhile in Orlando, the Magic cruised to a 108-81 win over the Brooklyn Nets even though All-Star Paolo Banchero sat out his second straight game with an illness. His availability for Thursday’s game remains up in the air.

Franz Wagner stepped up for Orlando, scoring 21 points, including 17 in the first half, as the Magic seized control. It helped them overcome the Nets, who had beaten them soundly in consecutive outings.

“I thought it was an important game for us, knowing how the last two games went against them,” Wagner said. “I was pretty happy with how everybody came out focused for the whole game.”

Moritz Wagner added 16 points, while Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony dropped in a dozen points each as Orlando won for the fourth time in five games. The Magic led by 27 points at halftime.

“You could feel our energy the whole game,” Franz Wagner said. “We’ve had a couple games already this season where we kind of let it slip in that third (quarter), so it was great the way we came out at halftime.”

Conversely, the Jazz lost control of their road game at Atlanta — their first matchup against former coach Quin Snyder and John Collins’ homecoming. Atlanta seized control early thanks in part to Utah’s turnover issues. The Hawks scored 10 points off six early Jazz turnovers while taking a 15-4 lead.

Utah finished with 18 turnovers while losing for the sixth time in seven games.

“The turnovers, at some point we have to take some individual responsibility of just being sloppy with the ball,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “When you compound that with a night you don’t shoot the ball well, the game was ugly.”

The Jazz shot just 37.2 percent and made only 11 of 38 3-point attempts. Lauri Markkanen, the team’s leading scorer, struggled to a 4-for-13 showing and 11 points, which is 12 below his season average of 23.0 points per game.

In his first game in Atlanta since joining the Jazz this past offseason after six seasons with the Hawks, Collins missed six of eight shots and scored just five points.

Utah only mustered 18 first-quarter points and trailed 55-44 at halftime.

“We have to do a much better job, everybody in the locker room, of our approach coming into these games,” Hardy said. “The game is not going to just reveal itself to us. It’s not going to just happen. I don’t think this has been something that our team has done a lot, but I felt tonight that we just sort of drifted into the game.”

The Magic beat Utah 115-113 in Salt Lake City on Nov. 2. Banchero had 30 points, with the biggest basket a game-winning layup with 14 seconds remaining.