Lackadaisical Jazz Fall Below .500 After Loss To Pelicans

Jan 23, 2024, 9:26 PM | Updated: 9:27 pm

Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen...

Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (Source: Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

(Source: Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz started slow for the third straight game, and for the third straight game they lost, falling to the New Orleans Pelicans 153-124.

The Pelicans set a franchise record with 153 points behind 33 points from CJ McCollum.

Collin Sexton led the Jazz with 22 points. With the loss the Jazz fell to 22-23 on the season.

Jazz Suffer Another Slow Start Against Pelicans

For the third straight outing, the Jazz found themselves trailing by double-digits in the first half, but unlike their losses to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets, they never made a serious push to get back into the game.

The Jazz trailed by 10 late in the first quarter, 21 in the second, 24 in the third, and fell behind by as many as 34 in the fourth quarter as the Pelicans gradually squeezed the air out of the roster.

“The first quarters of the last two games and tonight’s game, we’re just not playing hard enough,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said.

The Pelicans found an early offensive rhythm shooting 13-26 from the floor, including 5-11 from three while scoring eight second-chance points in the first quarter.

In total, the Pelicans scored on 11 of their 12 second-chance opportunities throughout the game as eight different players recorded an offensive rebound.

“They had 65 points between second chance and transition,” Hardy added. “And to give up 35 points in transition on a night where we only had eight turnovers is not very good.”

New Orleans finished the game with a 57-38 rebounding advantage as the Jazz looked like the physically inferior team once again.

“It only counts as one loss, but our team needs to regroup right now,” Hardy concluded. “I think we’ve shown over the last five weeks that we’re a good basketball team.”

Has Keyonte George Hit Rookie Wall?

Keyonte George has found himself in the worst shooting slump of his career, knocking down just three of his last 16 attempts over his last three games.

His last three outings have consisted of 1-5, 1-3, and 1-8 shooting performances, and he hasn’t made a shot inside the arc during the stretch.

“The rookie wall is talked about a lot, I think that wall is far more mental and emotional than it is physical,” Hardy said of the Jazz first-year guard. “The adrenaline of the first part of the season wears off and you naturally relax.”

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George has played the seventh most minutes of any rookie so far this season, ranks sixth in points per game, and second in assists.

After back-to-back 19 points games on January 13 and 15, his production had dipped during the Jazz’s losing streak.

“There’s a message of caution in all of that,” Hardy added. “The league doesn’t care, and the league won’t wait for you — it’ll chew you up and spit you out. So you have to keep doing the work, you have to keep approaching it with the same fire and intensity.”

George should face a lighter test over the Jazz’s next three outings. The Washington Wizards have the league’s third-worst defensive rating, the Charlotte Hornets are the league’s worst defensive team, and the Brooklyn Nets have the 19th-ranked defense.

Nightly Awards: Jazz vs. Pelicans

The “Was He Playing A Different Game Than Everyone Else?” Award:

Goes to Kris Dunn who despite the Jazz losing by 29 somehow managed to have a positive plus-minus in 17 minutes on the floor.

Dunn was a +2 for the Jazz while scoring 10 points, dishing out four assists, and grabbing three rebounds.

The next closest starter was John Collins who was a -6 in 25 minutes.

The “Good Sign But Bad Night” Award:

Goes to Lauri Markkanen who had one of his worst nights in a Jazz uniform scoring 11 points on 4-15 shooting.

He did however lead the team in field goal attempts, a good sign of his aggressiveness even when he wasn’t having success from the floor.

Markkanen needs to be the focal point of the Jazz offense even when he’s struggling after not getting enough touches against the Rockets on Saturday.

Utah Jazz’s Next Broadcast

The Jazz will face the Wizards on Wednesday at 5 pm MST in Washington. The game will be televised on KJZZ, streamed on Jazz+, and can be heard on
97.5 The KSL Sports Zone.

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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Lackadaisical Jazz Fall Below .500 After Loss To Pelicans