Jazz Comeback Falls Short Against Pelicans

Mar 1, 2021, 9:42 PM | Updated: 9:55 pm
Utah Jazz players Rudy Gobert and Bojan Bogdanovic defend New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion William...
Utah Jazz players Rudy Gobert and Bojan Bogdanovic defend New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz fell to the New Orleans Pelicans 129-124 in game three of their four-game road trip.

The Jazz have now dropped their second game in the last three outings, the first time that has happened since early January, and appear to be running on fumes heading into the All-Star break.

Though they trailed by 17 at one point in the fourth quarter, the Jazz trimmed the lead to as small as one before their comeback fell short.

The Pelicans meanwhile snapped a two-game losing streak thanks to dominant performances from Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram who combined for 52 points on 21-37 shooting in the win.

The Jazz Looked Tired In The Third Quarter

Though the Jazz have guaranteed themselves the best record in the NBA entering the All-Star break, the toll it has taken on them physically seems to be catching up on this four-game road trip.

The Jazz played a full 48 minutes in a tough loss to the Miami Heat to open the trip. Then sleepwalked through the first 24 minutes of their win against the Orlando Magic before Donovan Mitchell carried them in the second half.

Then, after a solid first half, the Jazz energy abandoned them in the third quarter and the Pelicans built a big lead that led to the victory.

“Every team in the league is going to be fatigued right now,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “That’s something we just have to play through. We can still communicate, we had breakdowns in pick and roll where he didn’t switch. Just a lot of different things and if you have to think harder and be more urgent, those are things that you can control.”

Tired teams characteristically miss jump shots, don’t get stops on defense, and stop attacking the paint.

In the third quarter, the Jazz scored just 24 points on 11-27 shooting from the floor, 2-9 from three, attempted zero free-throws.

On the other end, the Jazz allowed New Orleans to score 40 points on 15-23 shooting while making 9-10 free-throws and turning the ball over just once.

The Jazz have one more game to play before the All-Star break and it’s against the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. The narrative around the Jazz will be significantly different if they drop three of four down the stretch than it would have had they were to finish this road trip 2-2.

Joe Ingles said he was tired after the Jazz beat the Magic on Saturday, and Rudy Gobert said he felt weary before finding his rhythm later in the victory. But right now, the team looks like it needs a breather, and the All-Star break sitting just 48 hours away couldn’t come at a better time.

Jazz Slow Starts Continue Against Pelicans

The Jazz have begun starting games more slowly over the last few games which have required bigger second half performances to get wins.

Here are the Jazz first quarter totals and deficits since starting their stretch of tough opponents over the last 11 games.

Vs. Pelicans: 23 (-3)

Vs. Magic: 22 (+1)

Vs. Heat: 30 (+4)

Vs. Lakers: 24 (+1)

Vs. Hornets: 35 (+0)

Vs. Clippers: 23 (-8)

Vs. Clippers: 24 (-1)

Vs. 76ers: 35 (-7)

Vs. Heat: 18 (-3)

Vs. Bucks: 35 (+4)

Vs. Celtics: 24 (-3)

On average, the Jazz are scoring 26 points per first quarter and have been outscored by 1.36 points after the first 12 minutes of the game.

Considering the Jazz are 8-3 in the stretch and have outscored their opponents by an average margin of 11 points over the stretch, that’s a significant 12 point swing over the final three quarters of the game.

“We want to start the game well, we talked about the last time we play them at home,” Snyder said. “They really got out in transition and I think that’s one of the biggest things, you have to be ready to really have urgency in transition and not give up easy shots.”

The Jazz are the 16th ranked team in the NBA in first quarter scoring for the season at just 28.1 points per game but would be ranked 28th if their average over the last 11 games had held steady for the season.

Considering they are the second high-scoring third-quarter team and the fourth-highest fourth-quarter team they’ve had enough real estate to make up for their early deficits, but as the season goes on, digging themselves out of these holes may get more difficult.

The Jazz now head to Philadelphia to finish their four-game road trip.

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