SPORTS

Jazz Prove To Be League’s Most Clutch In Win Over Pelicans

Jan 6, 2020, 11:07 PM | Updated: Jan 7, 2020, 12:52 pm
Bojan Bogdanovic - Minnesota Timberwolves...
Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana – The Utah Jazz escaped New Orleans with their sixth straight victory after beating the Pelicans 128-126. The Jazz closed out their three-game road trip undefeated, and have won six out seven games on the road. 

The Story

Perhaps the most remarkable detail to come out of the Jazz recent hot streak heading into their game against the Pelicans, having won 10 out of 11 games, was the lack of controversy surrounding the victories. The Jazz had won all 10 games by at least two scores, never allowing the outcome of their games to be dictated by a bad call one way or another. 

That changed against the Pelicans with the Jazz winning by just one score and the game ending on a call that drew the ire of New Orleans fans and players. On the final play of the game Rudy Gobert appeared to foul Brandon Ingram at the rim that would have given the Pelicans young star a chance to tie the game with less than a second remaining. Instead, the referees swallowed their whistles, and the Jazz emerged victoriously.

Despite the non-whistle, the officiating crew went to the replay table to review the final play, despite the rulebook stating the play is unreviewable. 

The Jazz quickly left the floor, happy to escape New Orleans with the victory. 

“I’m not sure, whats reviewable in that situation,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said, “I am sure I’m not sure what the call was. The referees did their job and we did ours.” 

The officials after the game said they went to the review table to see if the game clock had malfunctioned. 

With the victory over the Pelicans, the Jazz are 9-4 in games decided by five points or less, the best record in basketball. It’s a significant improvement from last season in which the team was just 5-10 in close games. 

Where last season the Jazz were almost solely dependent on late-game defense to win close games, the team’s newfound offense can carry them to victory. Against the Pelicans, the Jazz scored 14 points in the final five minutes of the game, despite the team’s defense allowing New Orleans to score 13 over the final stretch to hold onto the win. 

“We were able to put some boards on the board tonight,” Snyder said, “Different guys did it at different times, and Bojan [Bogdanovic] carried us.” 

Bogdanovic scored seven of the Jazz 14 points in the final five minutes of the game, part of his game-high 35 point outing. It marks the seventh time of the season Bogdanovic has scored 30 points or more and the Jazz are 7-1 on the year when he does. 

“We traded baskets with them for the whole game,” Bogdanovic said of the Pelicans, “The last game of every road trip is a tricky game, we were lucky tonight to get a W.”

The Game

Despite entering the game without either the number one overall pick Zion Williamson who has yet to play in the regular season, or starting point guard Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans were able to impose their will on the Jazz for long stretches of the game offensively. 

Brandon Ingram matched Bogdanovic’s 35 points, shooting 12-24 from the floor and 8-8 from the free-throw line. Ingram’s length allowed him to score easily over smaller defenders, while his speed allowed him to get the rim and the free-throw line. 

“Teams go through different things throughout the course of the season and they’re playing very well,” Snyder said of the young Pelicans roster, “They know who they are they have an identity and they’re really tough to guard.”

JJ Redick added 23 points for New Orleans, including 14 points in the second half to aid Ingram’s big outing. 

Despite allowing 126 points, the Jazz second-highest opponent point total of the season, the Jazz held the Pelicans offense to just eight fastbreak points, fewer than half their season average. Meanwhile, the Jazz got 18 fastbreak points of their own and got a big lift from the bench. 

For the fourth straight outing, the Jazz second until has outscored the oppositions reserve group, this time putting up 40 points while allowing just 30. The bench was led by guard Jordan Clarkson who scored 16 points on 6-11 shooting, including 4-7 from three. 

Overall, the Jazz shot 16-33 from the three-point line, good for 48 percent, nearly 10 percentage points better than their league-leading pace. Joe Ingles knocked in 4-5 attempts from three and was the team’s second-leading scorer with 22 points. 

Donovan Mitchell was held to 19 points on 7-18 shooting, but along with Ingles added a team-high six assists. 

“I understand the shots not going to be there every night,” Mitchell said of his inefficient shooting, “There’s certain shots I should have taken but if they’re not going to go in I need to find guys who are open.”

The Jazz 128 points match their season-high, coincidentally against the Pelicans in a victory at home on November 23.  

The Big Picture

The Jazz have won a league-leading six games in a row and have the best record in the NBA over the last 10 games at 9-1. With the recent success, the Jazz sit alone in the fifth seed in the West and are just one game back of the second-seeded Denver Nuggets. 

Ingles hot streak from the three-point line is a testament to the law of averages regarding professional athletes. After starting the season 31-97 from deep, or 31.9 percent, Ingles has made 47-90 over the last 30 days, or 52 percent. For the season, Ingles is shooting 41 percent from the three-point line. 

As well as the Jazz are playing, their hot streak might continue on for a few weeks longer. The Jazz next six opponents all have sub .500 records for the season, and of the six only the Brooklyn Nets are poised to make the playoffs. 

After those six games, three out of four opponents are locks to make the postseason (Indiana Pacers, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets) all of whom they’ll face in Utah. The lone road game of the four comes against the 9-29 Golden State Warriors. 

Though Gobert got the better of Brandon Ingram on the final play in New Orleans, Ingram might outduel Gobert for the final roster spot on the Western Conference All-Star team. NBA coaches select the seven reserves, and Gobert and Ingram will likely be competing for the final two wildcard positions. Gobert’s case would be greatly buoyed if the Jazz can have one of the top two seeds in the West come the end of January. 

Jazz host the 10-26 New York Knicks Wednesday in Salt Lake City. The Knicks are just 5-16 this season away from Madison Square Garden.

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