Jazz Hope To Cool Hot Williamson, Struggling Pelicans
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz are looking to sweep their season series against the New Orleans Pelicans tonight night in Louisiana.
The Jazz are coming off a 124-109 victory over the Orlando Magic on Saturday night in the second game of a four-game road trip.
The Pelicans meanwhile are hoping to snap a tw0-game losing streak and start their six-game homestand off with a bang against the best team in basketball.
Jazz Can Sweep Pelicans With Win
The Jazz are undefeated this season against the Pelicans, winning back-to-back games in January at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City.
Donovan Mitchell averaged 32 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.5 assists in the two-game series, with the Jazz winning the games by an average margin of 13.5 points.
It was during Mitchell’s 36 point outing in the second meeting between the two teams that TNT analysts and basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal criticized the guard for not doing more to help his team.
The Jazz are 16-3 since O’Neal’s comments and Mitchell has averaged 24.7 points 5.6 assists, and 5.2 rebounds, and was named to the 2021 All-Star team last month.
Mitchell is coming off of a 31 point, six rebound, four assist outing Saturday against the Magic when the Jazz were tasked with playing without starting point guard Mike Conley.
The team sat Conley to lessen the stress on a hamstring injury he suffered in February but is expected to be back in the lineup against the Pelicans.
Williamson Thriving For Struggling Pelicans
Though the Pelicans have won just three out of their last 10 games, second-year forward Zion Williamson is carving out a niche as one of the most efficient scorers in basketball.
Since February 6, Williams has scored at least 20 points in each of the Pelicans 12 games and is averaging 28.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.6 assists while shooting a staggering 65 percent from the floor.
Williamson is currently on pace to become only the second player in NBA history to average 25 points per game and shoot at least 60 percent from the floor, joining former Boston Celtics Hall of Famer big man Kevin McHale.
“He’s been averaging 20 points in the paint for the month,” Jazz center Rudy Gobert said of Williamson. “He a handful and we know that’s going to be a battle. It’s going to take a team effort to slow them down and control the paint.”
Despite Williamson and Mitchell’s extraordinary play for their teams, the key matchup for the Jazz and Pelicans will be between point guards Mike Conley and Eric Bledsoe.
The Jazz have struggled this season when Conley has shot poorly from the floor. All seven of the Jazz losses have come with Conley shooting 46 percent or worse from the field, just as they did in Friday’s loss against the Miami Heat.
Conley will need to rebound from his day off on Saturday should they hope to compete with New Orleans on the road.
The Pelicans meanwhile could use a big outing from Bledsoe. The team is 7-2 when Bledsoe scores at least 17 points this season despite losing Saturday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs when the guard scored 19 points.
The Jazz and Pelicans will tip-off at 6 pm MT, the game will be broadcast on AT&T SportsNet.