Jazz Can’t Stop Ingram, Snap 10 Game Win Streak
NEW ORLEANS, Pelicans – The Utah Jazz saw their 10-game winning streak come to an end with a 138-132 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. Despite matching his career-high with 46 points Donovan Mitchell couldn’t match late-game heroics from Brandon Ingram, which may loom large come playoff time.
The last time the Jazz faced the Pelicans in New Orleans, a controversial no-call when Rudy Gobert blocked a Brandon Ingram layup on the final play of the game allowed the Jazz to escape with a 128-126 victory. On Thursday night in New Orleans, Ingram made sure the referees couldn’t give the Jazz the victory, no matter how hard they tried.
Ingram torched the Jazz for 49 points, including the near game-winner in regulation to put the Pelicans up by one with .02 remaining in the fourth quarter. A questionable foul call on the final inbound play of regulation allowed Gobert to send the game to overtime by splitting a pair of free-throws but Ingram once again stepped up to the challenge.
The Pelicans young star had six of the Pelicans 16 overtime points which proved to be the difference as the Jazz managed just 10 points in the extra period and saw their 10-game winning streak snapped.
While the Jazz won’t run into a performance like Ingram’s every night during the regular season, it may be a preview of what the team will face in the postseason and shed light on where the roster may struggle when they face bigger playmaking forwards in the playoffs.
Though they are unlikely to face Ingram in the first round of the playoffs, as the Pelicans will likely top out as the eighth seed if they can climb back into the playoff picture, the Jazz could face a sharpshooting combo-forward if they match up with LeBron James and Los Angeles Lakers, Paul George or Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers, or Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.
Ingram regularly abused the Jazz pick and roll defense either blowing past Royce O’Neale and finishing at the rim with Gobert tied to the screen setter or finding his teammate for an easy finish if Gobert rotated to help. Between the Lakers Anthony Davis, the Clippers Montrezl Harrell and Ivica Zubacs, or the Mavericks Kristaps Porzingis, it’s not difficult to imagine the Jazz finding themselves in a tough pick and roll matchup over a seven-game series.
Those matchups will be made even more interesting if Mike Conley returns to the Jazz starting lineup. O’Neale has been asked by the Jazz to defend the opposing team’s best offensive wing player most nights, a task that would shift to one of Conley, Mitchell, or Joe Ingles if O’Neale is pushed to the bench by Conley’s return.
The Jazz were on the third game of a three-game road trip and looked every bit the part. The team was sluggish in the first half and trailed 56-49 at the break, and was plagued by turnovers and slow transition defense. The Jazz had 11 first-half turnovers and gave up 17 fast-break points while finding just six points of their on in transition.
“I thought they were a little more physical with us in the first half,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said, “These games come down to a few plays and we made a few, there was a few we didn’t make. Tip our hat to New Orleans, they did an excellent job.”
The Jazz won the third quarter 42-31 and took a 91-87 lead into the fourth quarter. Mitchell scored 18 of his career-high-tying 46 points in the third period to give the Jazz the lead. The third-year guard added an additional 13 points in the fourth quarter to help the Jazz force overtime.
Mitchell has scored 46 points twice before for the Jazz, with the last outing coming against the Denver Nuggets in game 81 last season. Mitchell had several chances to set a new career-high but missed his final six shots that could have extended the Jazz lead or kept them in the game once the lead had slipped away. The Louisville product finished the night shooting 16-34 from the floor and 7-15 from the three-point line while making all seven of his free-throw attempts.
“First off you’ve got to give credit to them, they executed and played a hell of a game,” Mitchell said, “I think that game was a winnable game for us, that was really what was at the front of my head.”
The Jazz bench which had been a strength through the recent winning streak was noticeably outplayed by the New Orleans reserves with the exception of Jordan Clarkson who finished with 15 of the second unit’s 22 points. The Pelicans bench scored 47 points in the victory led by E’Twaun Moore’s 16 points. Outside of Clarkson 5-11 outing, the Jazz reserves combined to shoot just 2-13 including 0-4 from the three-point line.
Gobert was the lone Jazz starter with a positive plus-minus in the box score but fouled out of the game on a controversial foul call with 1:19 left in overtime. Snyder challenged the call but was overturned upon further review and the Jazz were outscored 7-0 with Tony Bradley on the floor in place of Gobert. The French center finished the night with 17 points, 14 rebounds, and three blocks in nearly 39 minutes.
“It wasn’t a foul, I mean I am just going to be straight up,” Gobert said, ”It’s fine, everyone makes mistakes. I don’t understand if they can review it and see that it’s not a foul [why] they didn’t overturn it.”
The Big Picture
The Jazz return after a three-game road trip without the weight of a 10-game winning streak on their back. Though the team said after the game they didn’t care about the streak, maintaining that level of play over that long of a streak during the regular season has to be taxing, and they can take a breath now and recoup as they prepare for Sacramento on Saturday night. Still, the Jazz took the loss hard after the game.
“We don’t care about the streak, we just hate to lose,” Gobert said, “We’re competitors, we want to come there and win every night. When you lose, and when you lose like that with that kind of game when you miss one rebound, one call, one shot you have a lot of regrets.”
Joe Ingles continued his stretch of games with a made three-pointer to 22 but knocked down just 1-5 tonight despite having several good looks. Despite finishing the night with 12 points, five rebounds, and six assists, Ingles had maybe his worst game in recent memory. Ingles often looked a step slow for the Jazz and finished with five fouls and three turnovers.
With the loss, the Jazz are once again tied with the Clippers for the third seed in the Western Conference with a record of 28-13 and are a half-game back of the Denver Nuggets for the second seed. The Jazz have yet to face the Nuggets this season and home-court advantage in the second round may be on the line for whoever wins the season series over the final 41 games of the season. At the halfway point of the year, the Jazz have set themselves up with a tremendous opportunity to own home-court advantage in the first two rounds of the playoffs, though it will likely be difficult to catch the Lakers who won a five-game advantage over the Jazz for the top spot in the West.
Going into the game against the Pelicans, the Jazz have the seventh toughest schedule remaining over the second half of the season. The Jazz opponents have a combined winning percentage of .515, though the Nuggets opponents have a better winning percentage of .524.
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