by Alma Bean
Feature Image: Photo by Ben B. Braun of Deseret News.
The Utah Jazz (16-14) looks to sweep their season series against the New Orleans Pelicans (18-9) in their second matchup this week.
Utah’s Looking for a Broom
Fouls came pretty heavy to start off the game as New Orleans had already committed enough fouls to be in the bonus in the first five minutes. Utah ended up shooting 6/9 (66.7%) from the line while New Orleans shot 4/5 (80%). Utah fans must’ve felt some sort of relief through the first quarter as Jordan Clarkson (39/8/2) scored 17 points in the first quarter compared to the 11 points he scored in their previous matchup. Needless to say, Clarkson was on fire shooting 3/4 (75%) from three and 6/7 (85.7%) from the field. Even with Clarkson’s offensive production, help from the New Orleans bench with Devonte’ Graham (8/3/3) and Larry Nance Jr. (13/9/1) kept the game close. Graham and Nance Jr. combined for 13 points in the first quarter but finished the quarter trailing 27-25.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “how ‘bout 17 in the first quarter for @JordanClarksons 🤘 (yeah, that’s a career-high) #TakeNote https://t.co/9mFbHLasQ5” / Twitter
In the second quarter, Utah continued to dig themselves a hole with fouls. Walker Kessler (11/8/1) picked up his third foul before the end of the half. This made Utah coach Will Hardy need to make an in-game adjustment sending in Udoka Azubuike (4 points and 1 rebound) to make up for the minutes Kessler would normally have. After Kessler was subbed out, it seemed like Utah couldn’t find its groove. Losing their lead and trailing by as much as nine points before the half, two quick threes from Clarkson brought Utah within striking distance. CJ McCollum‘s (28/6/4) 15 points in the first half contributed to New Orleans’ 62-58 lead going into the half.
(1) Utah Jazz on Twitter: “H̶U̶L̶K̶ DOK SMASH 👊 #TakeNote https://t.co/YvfZNPgbNZ” / Twitter
Sweeping Is Harder That You Think
In the third quarter, it looked like New Orleans was going to run away with the game. New Orleans came away with a 14-2 run that put them up by 13 points behind the physicality of Zion Williamson (31/8/8). Didn’t help that Mike Conley (4/2/6) picked up his third foul of the game 35 seconds into the half. Utah’s ability to drive to the hoop gave them additional opportunities at the free-throw line going 8/9 (88.9%) for the quarter. Though Utah managed to fight back the lead with less than two minutes left in the quarter, New Orleans finished the quarter leading Utah 95-91.
(1) Utah Jazz on Twitter: “Beas counter: 🐝 🐝 🐝 🐝 #TakeNote https://t.co/4ZKPIF5LLQ” / Twitter
Basketball being a game of runs, both teams managed to find them to make this game a photo finish. Utah went on a 12-4 run to tie the game up at 105 a piece, but that didn’t last long as New Orleans responded with an 11-5 run to put them back on top 111-106 with 3:18 left in the game.
Within the final minute, there were four different lead changes. One of them started with a missed three from McCollum, an offensive rebound leading to a corner three by Trey Murphy III (12 points and 5 rebounds) to tie the game 123-123 with two seconds left. Utah calls a timeout to advance the ball to halfcourt in hopes to execute a play to win the game. Kelly Olynyk (14/7/3) inbounds the ball to Lauri Markkanen (31/5/3) in the paint, where Markkanen was able to get a shot off but was blocked by Nance Jr. The arc of the shot was so close to coming down that the officials went to the monitor to see if the block was potentially a goaltend. Unfortunately for Utah, the call on the floor stood as called and led to Utah’s first home overtime game of the season.
(1) Utah Jazz on Twitter: “NAW backwards is WAN, as in we want more of this 👇 #TakeNote | @NickeilAW https://t.co/a1ND77WOp3” / Twitter
Nothing Like Some Free Basketball
The start of overtime didn’t look too promising for Utah. Kessler was hit with two quick fouls but was adamant that the second one needed to be reviewed. After looking at the replay on the monitor above, Hardy waved his finger in hopes of keeping Kessler in the game. The call was overturned and Utah received possession of the ball.
Though both teams shot 3/9 (33.3%) from the field, Utah managed to be reliant on their free throws. Kessler went 1/2 (50%) and Conley scared Utah fans by going 0/2 (0%) and 2/6 (33.3%) for the game. After those two missed free throws by Conley, he played impeccable defense on McCollum. McCollum tried to get Conley to make contact on the perimeter with a pump fake but missed and his shot came up short. Markkanen then was fouled and made both free throws to put Utah up 132-129. After a failed steal attempt by New Orleans with 1.2 seconds left, Utah finished their series with New Orleans with a 132-129 win. Utah finished up the series by sweeping New Orleans 3-0, twice in the last three days.
(1) Utah Jazz on Twitter: “Jordan Clarkson doing Jordan Clarkson things 🏴☠️ #TakeNote https://t.co/Be8WZqEwxY” / Twitter
Utah will be going on a three-game road trip deemed the reunion tour. Facing the Milwaukee Bucks (20-8) on Saturday (Joe Ingles), the Cleveland Cavaliers (19-11) on Monday (Donovan Mitchell), and wrapping up with the Detroit Pistons (8-23) on Tuesday (Bojan Bogdanovic). Tip-off against Milwaukee will be at 6:00 p.m. MT on AT&T SportsNet.
(1) Utah Jazz on Twitter: “We all grinding’, we all hungry. When it gets down to those clutch moments we just try to make big shots.” @JordanClarksons joins @Sportsiren on the 🎤. #WalkoffInterview | @lhmauto https://t.co/osjv5RU2pN” / Twitter