After a minor meltdown in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s loss to the Clippers, the Jazz found a way to bounce back and grab a nice home win on Monday night against the Pelicans. Gordon Hayward picked up a quad contusion in Saturday’s game, and missed the meeting with New Orleans as a result. Without their lone All-Star, the Jazz came together for a solid team win, 108-100.
Utah came out with more intensity than we’ve seen from them in a while. They put together a strong first quarter on both ends of the floor, then opened the second quarter on an 11-0 run. Everything looked to be clicking for the Jazz.
Rudy Gobert was already halfway to a triple double by the end of the first quarter. After the first frame Gobert had seven points, six rebounds and four blocks. Without DeMarcus Cousins to get Rudy out of the paint, the Jazz big man was free to protect the rim on defense.
However, Anthony Davis and the Pelicans responded and closed the gap before halftime. New Orleans carried their momentum into the third quarter and regained a lead five minutes into the second half.
Davis had another monster game for New Orleans. He’s been rolling lately, scoring 30+ points and grabbing 15+ rebounds in his last three games. He’s only the second player to have a stretch like that in the last 20 seasons. On Monday night he finished with 36 points and 17 rebounds.
Despite New Orleans hitting some big shots and Anthony Davis existing on a different planet, the Jazz responded down the stretch. Joe Ingles, Joe Johnson and Rodney Hood all hit big threes for the Jazz when it seemed like the Pelicans were surging.
After Saturday’s loss Rudy Gobert called out some of his teammates for lacking competitiveness. The team had a players only meeting and appeared to work out their differences. The beginning of the second half could have been an unraveling point for the Jazz. But they competed to fight back and protect their home floor.
The Jazz have a 1.5 game lead over the Clippers for the 4th seed and home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. It’s not going to get any easier if they want to hold on to that spot. After the game Joe Johnson commented on the increased difficulty that comes at this point in the season, “Yeah [each game gets] harder. no matter which team you play, no matter what they’re playing for, they come out and make it tough.”
With just eight games left, the Jazz will have to dig deep to gain momentum going into a potential first round matchup with the Clippers. Both teams have had struggles over the last few games, and it will be interesting to see who can dig deeper in this final run.
The Jazz head to Sacramento to take on the Kings this Wednesday at 8:30.