by Alma Bean
Feature Image: Photo by Jeffery D. Allred of Deseret News.
The Utah Jazz (15-14) takes on the visiting New Orleans Pelicans (18-8) in the first of two meetings this week.
Jazz is Where Your Heart Is
The first quarter was a showing of troubles on different levels. New Orleans’ main struggle was perimeter shooting when they have been in the top half of the league in three-point percentage. This quarter did not reflect their averages as New Orleans shot 1/6 (16.7%) with their one three coming from CJ McCollum (14 points, 6 rebounds) in the first minute. New Orleans relied on the physicality of Zion Williamson (26/9/5) to try and wear out Utah in the paint. Williamson shot 4/4 (100%) within the perimeter along with two free throws to rack up 10 points in the quarter. Utah was led by the return of their star forward Lauri Markkanen (19/11/1) as he scored eight points in the first to keep up with the production of Williamson. Though Utah shot just under 50 percent in the quarter, they managed to finish the quarter down by one as they trailed 30-29.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “how does he do it? the world may never know 😳 #TakeNote | @JordanClarksons https://t.co/mzz6q6RCQr” / Twitter
In the second quarter, Utah eliminated access to the perimeter. For the first half, New Orleans finished shooting 1/12 (8.3%) but Utah didn’t shoot much better going 2/9 (22.2%) for the quarter. A career milestone for Markkanen, as he made three number 700 for his career. This makes Markkanen just the fourth seven-footer to reach this milestone. Overall, Utah was able to hold New Orleans to just 15 points for the quarter on 6/22 (27.3%). Not much more offense from Utah but were able to lock in the lead heading into the locker room 52-45.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “☎️ INCOMING ☎️ #TakeNote https://t.co/AEdZF9H2jP” / Twitter
This. Is. UTAH!
Utah’s defense did not let up in the second half. Continuing to contain New Orleans on the perimeter going 1/8 (12.5%), and 2/20 (10%) for the game so far. Where Utah struggled to contain New Orleans was at the free throw line. In the first half, Utah sent New Orleans to line 12 times. In the third quarter alone, New Orleans shot 9/14 (64.3%), and 17/26 (65.4%) for the game. Up to this point, Jordan Clarkson (11/1/3) had been struggling on the floor. Shooting 2/9 (22.2%) from the field with a single three felt like a strange night. He matched his total shots for the game in the third quarter shooting 2/4 (50%) including a buzzer-beating fadeaway three to give Utah a 91-71 lead to end the quarter.
(1) Utah Jazz on Twitter: “nothing but absolute commitment #TakeNote | @JVando https://t.co/jziJtQ7WaK” / Twitter
Utah’s fans had their eyes on Jarred Vanderbilt (18/14/6) as the game clock ticked down. There was a bit of hope that Vanderbilt would be able to end Utah’s triple-double drought that has stretched over a decade. Though he was in foul trouble in the fourth, having five fouls, his aggressiveness started to deplete itself. Though Vanderbilt needed to play more cautiously in the second half, Nickeil Alexander-Walker (19/3/6) managed to bring the bench to life along with Malik Beasley (21/2/4). These players combined for 8/16 (50%) from the field including Alexander-Walker shooting 4/5 (80%) from the perimeter. After leading by as much as 27 points in the fourth quarter, New Orleans coach Willie Green waved the white flag with just over six minutes left. Fans in the arena were able to see the full available rosters play as Utah beat the number one team in the west 121-100.
(1) Utah Jazz on Twitter: “walk the block #TakeNote https://t.co/ffjjAWSA4a” / Twitter
Both teams will stay in Salt Lake City before they have a quick rematch on Thursday night. Tip-off will be at 7:00 p.m. MT on AT&T SportsNet.
(1) Utah Jazz on Twitter: ““It was an amazing effort from the entire team.” @JVando joins @sportsiren on the 🎤 with the @lhmauto #WalkoffInterview https://t.co/YAElXulM1E” / Twitter