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Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans Game Preview

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Game #24: Pelicans (6-18) @ Jazz (10-13)
Location: Vivint Smart Home Arena • Salt Lake City, UT
Time: 7:00 p.m. (MT)
TV: ROOT Sports • Radio: 1280 AM / 97.5 FM

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Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz are better than their record indicates. A big issue in the pass / fail world of sports is that the only thing that seems the count is the "Scoreboard". It doesn't matter that the Jazz have this nearly .500 record despite playing so many games without two starters. By the same token, the New Orleans Pelicans are also much better than their record indicates. And few teams have suffered so many injuries to their main core players this season as they have. It's almost a sin. But tonight both teams will face off with some better results than the first game, we hope.

Yes, the Jazz are without two starters, and another rotation regular tonight. But I think we can't lean on that injury excuse forever. (Unless the Jazz lose tonight, then I will be leaning HEAVILY on it!)

New Orleans is dangerous when healthy. They have talent and depth, and more than anything else, they have a legit inside / outside tandem with their bigs. Anthony Davis and Alexis Ajinca can get it done near the basket. Both can also flare out baseline and make spot up jumpers. Kendrick Perkins, if he ever plays, he both hilarious and frightening. Omer Asik is legit on defense and knows where to move to be of best use on offense. And then there's Ryan Anderson. Anderson appears to be on the trading block, but one thing he'll be doing tonight is showcasing his talent in front of a fanbase that sorely wants a stretch big.

It doesn't get easier for the Jazz on the perimeter as Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, and Jrue Holiday all can penetrate at will against our guards. Furthermore, guys like Norris Cole can catch fire from deep if left open.

So, all these great things about the Pellies aside . . . who is going to stop Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors? Favors is a beast and while he doesn't get the stats that some other bigmen do, he's capable of really dropping 30 on New Orleans, even with their bigman roster. Hayward is the most dynamic wing player in this game, and this NBA game is tailored to dynamic wings today.

I'm not satisfied with Raul Neto, Trey Burke, and Alec Burks checking their ball handlers, but that's the lesser sin than what could be the case at wing if Gordon isn't flying high in this game. There's no Joe Ingles, and Rodney Hood has been in a 20+ game shooting "slump" right now. Alec is going to be playing a lot of point guard tonight. Elijah Millsap and/or Chris Johnson are going to feature heavily in how this game ends.

Of course, if Rudy Gobert and Dante Exum were both healthy right now it wouldn't even be a contest. But hey, you gotta give New Orleans a shot, right? The Jazz are 16-6 against them in Utah, and 27-18 overall. Utah won the first test between these two teams back on November 28th, 101-87. Anthony Davis went off but he didn't have any guys from his squad backing him up. He'll have that help tonight with the Jazz in the handicapped spot.

It'll be a good game. I expect Derrick Favors to dominate, you know, if our guards remember to get him the ball.

GO JAZZ GO!