The Utah Jazz were defeated by the New Orleans Pelicans 100-96 in their last game before the All-Star Break. It couldn't come at a better moment for the Jazz who were absolutely out of energy and couldn't finish despite being up 77-71 after three. Before the game started Anthony Davis was presented with his All-Star jersey in a ceremony before tip off. That seemed to energize Derrick Favors who went out there and dominated the paint in the first half. Favors had 20 points at halftime, while Davis only 3. Sadly, no one else on the Jazz felt sufficiently energized or motivated, and Utah was down at the half. It was a sloppy, slow game between two injured teams (no wings for NOP, no ball handlers for UTA) -- one where it was an all-night blah-fest.
The third quarter saw the Jazz advance their cause with Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert making their mark on the game. But the fourth quarter was really the only quarter you needed to pay attention to. Davis had the majority of his points in the fourth, and was both decisive and reliable down the stretch. He made life tough for the Jazz defenders in the pick and roll with Jrue Holiday, and was able to get to the line nearly at will, and once had a strong move to score over Rudy Gobert. Hayward *was* the offense down the stretch for the Jazz but yet another bad 4th quarter turn over prevented the Jazz from keeping stride with the Pelicans. An Anthony Davis pick and pop three pointer sealed the deal while the Jazz split two sets of important free throws on the other end.
Utah ran out of gas, and I get that. They are missing three rotation guys in Dante Exum, Alec Burks, and Trey Burke -- not an excuse by itself -- but that caused their four remaining good players to play 35, 37, 43, and 45 minutes LAST night in an OT game played in a different time zone. The Jazz did not play their best, nor did they play their best over the entirety of their 7 game win streak. They won some ugly games. That makes up for some of the pretty losses earlier in the season, but the 7 game streak looked better in the W/L column than the actual nuts and bolts of the games they played.
This team has some work to do. And they know it. In a way, going into the All-Star break with this hammered into them could galvanize them to some OUT of the break like men on a mission. Going into the break on an 8 game streak could be setting themselves up for an even larger fall and false sense of security.
Ultimately this team needs more quality depth. And they need to play smarter. They flubbed countless fast break attempts, and turned the ball over 17 times. They also shot 7/21 from downtown. In this era shooting 33% isn't good enough, especially when you are shooting over 20 three pointers a game. This team does have it's work cut out for them, but after the break we expect the depth to be less of an issue with the Burkes-court returning. (We think.)
Hats off to the Pelicans. They won an ugly game and rode their All-Star to this victory. Davis finished with 19 points (16 in the second half), 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 1 block. He was helped off the bench by Jrue Holiday (a former All-Star) had 21 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block.
For the Jazz Derrick Favors had 29 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal. Gordon Hayward had 21 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and nearly carried Utah over the goalline with nothing left in his tank. Rudy Gobert had a double double with 12 points and 14 rebounds, and he had 2 blocks to boot. Rodney Hood had a quiet 15 points, but pulled down 6 rebounds, and passed it off for 3 assists.
No one else was remarkable.
If we are looking for something positive to take from this game it's that a loss at this point keeps our guys humble. A win tonight may make them think too much of themselves, and continue to play increasingly sloppy games and expect a win.
The only other thing that went right tonight was #SLCDUNKO where the Jazz got a row.