The Utah Jazz (40-24) won tonight against the New Orleans Pelicans (25-39) by the final score of 88-83. It did not look like it was going to be a close game at all as Utah pounced on the Pelicans early and ran off to a 29-14 first quarter score. They did not run away with the game, though, as New Orleans fought back in the second (20-14), held serve in the third (18-18), and made another push in the fourth (31-27). It was a tough game for both teams who would combine for 32 assists against 39 turn overs, and shoot a combined score in the mid 30 FG% range.
Both teams were justifiably gassed, playing in the second night of a back-to-back, and the third game in four nights. Utah moreso because they played in overtime last night, and this was also their fifth game in seven nights. (Trivia: the Jazz are now 4-1 in 5 in 7 games.) Furthermore, both teams were missing rotation players. Utah without George Hill, Joe Johnson, and Shelvin Mack. And New Orleans without Omer Asik and Quincy Pondexter.
So it was two teams not at their best, occasionally giving their all. There were unforced errors. But as the game got closer and closer in score both teams picked up their intensity and animosity. The main attractions were there: All-Stars for the Pelicans like Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, and their Jazz counter parts Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors.
Both teams had nice nights from some players coming off the bench, though I would say Jordan Crawford (19 points, 3 assists, 3 threes, 2 steals) and E’Twaun Moore (10 points, 2 threes) got the best of Rodney Hood (9 points, 2 steals, 4/4 FT) and Alec Burks (10 points, 8 rebounds, 2 threes) tonight.
But in the end only one team had a hot shoot small forward with a little swagger in his game. No, I’m not talking about Gordon Hayward (who did have 23 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 threes, and 1 steal)
- I’m talking about Joe Ingles (12 points, 5 rebounds, 4 threes, 4 assists, 2 steals, very impressive defense against all players big or small).
Ingles was the guy who helped the Jazz secure this wire-to-wire victory. Yes, yes, I know. Dante Exum came out playing great. Gordon got his points. Rudy Gobert once again dominated his opponent (15 points ,15 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks).
DeMarcus Cousins in 3 games vs. Rudy Gobert this season: 17.3 ppg, 17-55 FG, 8.7 rpg— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) March 7, 2017
Gobert vs. Cousins: 17.3 ppg, 17-25 FG, 14.3 rpg
I like what Ingles did here the most though. He made sure that the perimeter players for the Pelicans didn’t go off - so the Jazz could focus their defense on the All-Star bigman tandem. Davis and Cousins would end up scoring 35 points off of 32 FGA. That’s not great.
The Jazz did just enough to win this game. They continue to get very little out of Trey Lyles and Boris Diaw. And that’s not good going forward. But all in all the team picked up three wins in five games so far in the last seven days. The next 10 games are going to be a true test of this team. Will they do the bare minimum to get by, or will they gear up for playoff basketball?