Healthier Jazz Crush West-Best New Orleans Pelicans

Dec 13, 2022, 11:02 PM | Updated: 11:07 pm
Utah Jazz guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker...
Utah Jazz guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
(Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz held the New Orleans Pelicans to 4-27 three-point shooting in what coach Will Hardy called the team’s best defensive performance of the season.

The Pelicans owned the top record in the West heading into the evening, but with the loss, snapped their league-best seven-game win streak.

Lauri Markkanen returned for the Jazz after a three-game absence and scored 19 points and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes.

Hardy Praises Jazz Defense Against New Orleans

Jazz coach Will Hardy was quick to point out that the Jazz had their best defensive night of the year against the Pelicans, holding New Orleans to 39 percent shooting from the floor and just 4-27 from the three-point line.

“What stood out to me was how connected we were on the defensive end,” hardy said. “That was our best defensive game of the season as a team identifying the gameplan, helping each other, and rebounding as a team.”

The Pelicans had just one made three at halftime, and two through the first three quarters as the game quickly spiraled out of control.

“Being a good defensive team takes a ton of effort, it takes multiple efforts on every possession,” Hardy said. “That’s something we’ve been stressing in practice, and the guys are getting better and better.”

Tuesday’s 100-point outing marked only the second time this season the Pelicans had been held to fewer than 104 points, outdone only by a 95-point outing against the Portland Trail Blazers on November 10.

Alexander-Walker Has Earned His Keep

Early in the preseason, Nickeil Alexander-Walker earned praise from Hardy and Mike Conley as one of the younger players standing out in closed-door practice sessions.

However, the fourth-year guard was out of the team’s rotation to open the season and appeared in just 10 of the Jazz’s first 20 games.

At media day, Alexander-Walker discussed how he was working on himself both on and off the floor to improve his performance.

“Today it’s Monday and it’s been a great day,” Alexander-Walker said. “Tuesday can be bad, but there’s Wednesday, and just using that to my advantage of consistency in a mindset.”

According to Hardy, that mindset is paying off for the guard.

“He’s a perfectionist, and he’s worked really, really hard to get here and he’s very detailed about his work on the court in the way we’re watching film,” Hardy said. “That’s his personality, And that’s his biggest strength and at times, that can be his biggest weakness.”

Alexander-Walker has had an up-and-down start to his NBA career. The guard was drafted in the first round by the Pelicans in 2019, floated in and out of the rotation as a rookie, struggled to shoot the ball in his second season, and was traded twice within two days last February before finally landing with the Jazz.

After Tuesday’s win, the guard said he had to learn to embrace the constant change that comes with playing in the NBA.

“The one thing I’ve got to do is find peace, peace with whatever comes in life,” Alexander-Walker said. “At the end of the day, like it could be better it could be worse, but it is what it is. I’ve got to enjoy what I have.”

As Alexander-Walker is learning to enjoy what he has in the NBA, the Jazz have been enjoying what they have in Alexander-Walker.

Over his last eight games, the 24-year-old is averaging 11.6 points and 3.0 assists while shooting 57 percent from the floor and 51 percent from the three-point line in 22 minutes per game.

Against the Pelicans, Alexander-Walker scored 19 points on 7-10 shooting including 4-6 from three to go with six assists.

Walker Kessler Doesn’t Care About Getting Dunked On

In the second quarter Jazz rookie Walker Kessler found himself on the wrong side of a Zion Williamson poster dunk.

Williamson drove past Kessler and easily threw down a two-handed dunk over the shot-blocking phenom, and it’s not the first time. Kessler has been the recipient of several facials early in his career.

For the 21-year-old, that’s just a part of doing business.

“I think that you have to have a short memory in this league, not just on the offensive end but the defensive end as well,” Kessler said. “And because of that, it doesn’t bother me.”

Kessler got the better of Williamson in their final two meetings at the rim on Tuesday blocking his shot twice before the game ended.

“I’m still gonna jump if a guy dunks on me four times, I’m not just going to let him [dunk],” Kessler said. “That dunk is a lot harder than me just moving out of the way, I don’t really care about — if anything any publicity is good publicity, I guess, so yeah it doesn’t really faze me.”

Kessler finished with 11 points, and a career-high 16 rebounds in 24 minutes.


  • Kelly Olyny played only 16 minutes in the win and recorded four fouls defending Williamson and Jonas Valanciunas
  • Jarred Vanderbilt had arguably his most productive game in a Jazz uniform scoring 18 points, grabbing 14 rebounds, and handing out six assists in 23 minutes.
  • Will Hardy lowered his rotation from 10 guys to nine guys with Sexton out of the rotation, not playing Talen Horton-Tucker until the final five minutes of the game.

Jazz Next Broadcast

The Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans will tip off again in Thursday at 7 pm MT in Salt Lake City. The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. It can also be streamed on DirecTV Stream and FuboTV.

  • Utah Jazz Scoreboard

  • Utah Jazz Team Leaders

  • Utah Jazz Standings

Utah Jazz

Mike Conley of the Utah Jazz...
Ben Anderson

Low Energy Jazz No Match For Hawks

The Utah Jazz had few answers for the more aggressive Atlanta Hawks in a 115-108 loss Friday night in Salt Lake City.
2 days ago
Chandler Holt

Jordan Clarkson Goes On Late Run To Bring Jazz Into Striking Distance

At the end of the fourth quarter against Atlanta, Jordan Clarkson scored 8 straight points to pull the Jazz closer.
2 days ago
Utah Jazz center Kelly Olynyk...
Ben Anderson

Hawks Shock Jazz Early, Win In Utah

The Atlanta Hawks jumped on the Utah Jazz early in the first quarter and never relented in a near wire-to-wire 115-108 win. 
2 days ago
Chandler Holt

Lauri Markkanen Shows Off His Handle Against Hawks

In the third quarter against Atlanta, Lauri Markkanen showed off his All-Star level talent with a tough stepback three-pointer.
2 days ago
Chandler Holt

Collin Sexton Starts Out Strong Against Atlanta Hawks

In the first quarter against the Atlanta Hawks, Collin Sexton came off the bench on fire. He scored 8 points on 4/4 shooting.
2 days ago
Ben Anderson

Jazz Roster Grades Ahead Of Trade Deadline

The Utah Jazz are through week 15 of the NBA season so it’s time to examine how they’ve fared in the four factors of a successful season.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.
KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.
Football soccer ball on grass field on stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

Everything You Need to Know to Watch the 2022 World Cup

Find out where and when to watch the upcoming games and final match for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including where to find live updates.
ksl sports logos...
KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Jimmy Buffett

Get your Hawaiian shirts ready.
Iron Maiden tour...
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden returns to Utah in 2022 with The Legacy of the Beast tour.
Healthier Jazz Crush West-Best New Orleans Pelicans