he Utah Jazz are one of five remaining undefeated teams so far in this young NBA season. Still a lot of basketball left, but I don’t think even the most optimistic Utah Jazz fan out there(me) thought that this team could win the first three games on their schedule this year. After defeating the Pelicans on Sunday night, the reality is that this Jazz team just posted an impressive win against an up and coming New Orleans team that everyone assumes is going to be in the playoffs this year, making that three presumed playoff teams in a row. It’s safe to say that this Utah Jazz team has some talent and the heart to go along with it.
Even with the impressive nature of this Jazz win, it almost didn’t happen. The Pelicans put together an impressive 4th quarter after the Jazz had kept them at bay for the first three. With forward Zion Williamson getting shaken up a bit and eventually leaving the game midway through the 4th, New Orleans withstood a Jazz run and stormed back after being down by as many as 17. But that was only enough to take the game into OT where the Jazz won the battle of the baskets. It should be noted that New Orleans also lost all star Brandon Ingram earlier in the game due to a concussion. Honestly with those two players in the game at the end, the Pelicans probably find a way to wrestle this one away, but that’s basketball and the Pelicans still had all star CJ McCollum on the floor who led the team with 28 points and 12 assists.
The Jazz did a great job of controlling most of the game and keeping the Pelicans at a distance. After going up by 17 points early in the 4th quarter, it seemed like the game might end up as a blowout. Credit to the Pelicans for fighting all the way back and making it an exciting game but they just didn’t have enough to overcome the duo of Lauri Markkanen and Kelly Olynyk. Markkanen was fantastic tonight with a game high 31 points and 12 rebounds and Olynyk put up 20 points, including the game winning scoop shot in OT. The fact that the Jazz got the win even though guards Mike Conley and Collin Sexton had off shooting nights is a testament to their budding defensive identity which is really impressive considering the loss of a certain all NBA center this past summer. Lead by rookie Walker Kessler, the Jazz interior defense held up really well for the most part.
The Pelicans have a light schedule this coming week with three games and a visit from the Dallas Mavericks next on Tuesday. Utah will complete the second night of a back to back by visiting the Houston Rockets tomorrow night for the first of their four games this week. It’s too early in the season to be making bold predictions about the heights that this Jazz team will reach this year. But there is one thing that Jazz fans everywhere will agree on after this first week, this team is a breath of fresh air and fun to watch so far.