SALT LAKE CITY — For the past few weeks, the Utah Jazz have been working to develop consistency in their play as they move through the long grind that is the 82-game NBA season. With a couple of days to actually practice on this recent homestand, they hoped to use that time to improve team chemistry and reestablish good habits on the court. Having won three of their last four contests, the Jazz went into Tuesday night’s games against the Orlando Magic looking to put some of their practice work in live competition.

For a first effort, Utah seemed to use that time to good advantage, playing solidly for nearly all four quarters versus the Magic. The Jazz’s offense was clicking most of the game as they employed their ball movement offense to great effect, getting open looks and pulling out to an 18-point lead at one point in the third quarter.

But then as happens in the NBA, their opponent went on a furious push beginning at the close of the third period.

“I thought we came out in the fourth quarter, you know, in a good place mentally. But then that was when I felt like offensively, we didn’t hit some shots and they turned them into buckets,” said Utah coach Quin Snyder.

Orlando went on a 12-0 run after the Jazz had jumped out to an 82-65 lead to close within five points at 82-77 early in the fourth quarter. The Magic drew within a bucket at 90-88 with just under seven minutes to play in the final period. After having outplayed Orlando for most of the first three quarters, the Jazz fell into a funk on offense and defense, allowing the Magic to roar back into a game they had come close to being blown out of.

Orlando fought all the way back and took the lead halfway through the fourth quarter at 97-90. Donovan Mitchell stopped the bleeding with a monster dunk with just over four minutes to play that would be the momentum changer that Utah needed to mount a comeback.

“We knew that they were a good team and that they were going to have their runs. It was unfortunate that they had it in the last quarter, but once again we closed the game in the right way. We controlled the boards. Our ball movement was pretty relevant this game, and it was a well-deserved win.” — Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic

Prior to the slam, the Jazz still trailed and could not put the ball in the basket, missing on five straight possessions — getting one shot each time and no second-chance opportunities.

Once again, transition defense — which was supposed to be among the focuses of Utah’s practice sessions — was its Achilles heel as it allowed the Magic to convert basket after basket off missed shots in transition. Fortunately for the Jazz, they were able to fight back and take the lead and eventually pull out the 109-102 win — their third straight.

“I think (despite) that period of the game, the way that we finished the game, what we did at the end of the game, was just was really good execution and we took the defense back up to a higher level,” Snyder said.

It’s that attitude that may be what the team has been lacking in this recent period of mediocrity. They seem to have found some confidence they haven’t had lately.

“Yeah, I think there was one time out where I mean we were talking to each other, but to the extent it felt like there was some sort of discouragement on the team, you’re always aware of that, and that didn’t happen,” Snyder said. “I think the guys in the huddle that were in the game kept their focus and there was no hanging your head or this happened or that happened. No, there was a couple mistakes and we didn’t let those mistakes split us apart as much as bring together, and that’s what the game reflected.”

In the locker room afterward, the players were also pleased with the way they finished the game, not allowing the disappointment of losing the lead to break their competitive spirit.

“I think it was just us being resilient, locking in when we had to on a defense and getting the stops that we need on offense and just making big shots,” said Jazz forward Royce O’Neale.

“We knew that they were a good team and that they were going to have their runs. It was unfortunate that they had it in the last quarter, but once again we closed the game in the right way,” said forward Bojan Bogdanovic. “We controlled the boards. Our ball movement was pretty relevant this game, and it was a well-deserved win.”

During the last road trip, the team was frustrated and despondent at how it lacked solutions to rectify poor performances. This time, there seems to be an undercurrent of assuredness that was missing previously.

“Just fighting through, I think just continued to be relentless,” said Mitchell. “We knew (what) we had to do and we got stops and got going. At the end of the day, we’ve got a lot of guys that can score, we’ve got guys that can defend and we communicate very well.”

“When they made a run, it was really off of turnovers and missed shots. I think overall we did a great job moving the ball and we were very solid defensively in the half court,” said Jazz center Rudy Gobert. “I feel something that I haven’t felt in a while defensively. As a team, I think we’re back doing the little things that’s going to help us be a great defensive team.”

“We’ve got competitors, we got a lot of pride and we know we want to be one of the best team in the world, not just the average team,” he said. “We know that it takes a lot of hard work and there’s some ups and some downs. But if you do it as a team, and compete as a team like we did tonight, defensively and offensively, I think we were going to get better and better.”

For the team to truly be better, the bench will have to do better than produce 14 total points and allow opponents to climb back into ball games after being down double digits. It’s an issue that will have to be addressed if the Jazz are ever able to become the contender they aspire to be.