The Jazz came into Wednesday night’s game in the midst of their second three-game losing streak of the season. Their last game was a complete collapse against the San Antonio Spurs, after two hard-fought losses to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Wednesday night’s game against the Pelicans needed to be a bounce back for the Jazz. New Orleans was one of the worst road teams in the NBA, coming into the night with a record of 1-12 away from home. The key matchup would be between Derrick Favors and Anthony Davis. The Brow leads his team in every major statistical category except assists. He’s second in the league in blocks at 2.71 per game, and fifth in rebounds at 10.7 per game. Favors has been playing well since Rudy Gobert went down with a sprained MCL. The Jazz would need to pick up the win to avoid their first four-game skid of the year, and remain in the playoff hunt. Things didn’t go their way.
The first half was back and forth. The Jazz took a 7-2 lead early, but the Pelicans quickly erased the early deficit. New Orleans went up by as many as 6 points in the first half. The Jazz fought back and closed out the second quarter strong, bringing the game back to within one. The halftime score was 51-50 in favor of the Pelicans. Anthony Davis was strong for New Orleans, scoring 10 points and hauling in 6 boards. But it was Ryan Anderson with 13 points off the bench who led New Orleans in scoring. Eric Gordon’s shooting was huge for the Pelicans, as he knocked down four threes in the first half, racking up 12 points. Gordon Hayward led Utah with 13 points. Derrick Favors had 6 points with 3 rebounds and 5 assists for the Jazz. Raul Neto provided a key spark off the bench, coming in and knocking down two three pointers to give the Jazz life.
The Jazz took control early in the third quarter, carrying the momentum they gained to end the second quarter. It appeared that they had made the necessary adjustments from their sloppy first half. Derrick Favors was in control. He scored 16 points in the third, the most he has scored in a single quarter at any point in his career. But as the game wore on New Orleans began to take away the Jazz’ offense. The Jazz went on a five-minute scoring drought late in the fourth quarter. New Orleans took over at that point and never looked back. The final score was 104-94 for New Orleans. Anthony Davis finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds for New Orleans. Ryan Anderson led all scorers with 24 points off the bench for the Pelicans. He was a perfect 13/13 from the free throw line. Derrick Favors led the Jazz with 22 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Gordon Hayward had 20 points and 6 rebounds for Utah.
This loss hurts the Jazz in a lot of ways. Losing to a bad road team at home is humiliating for a team looking to bounce back from some tough losses against top-flight competition. Looking at the schedule, this game should have been a win for the Jazz. But that’s why they play all the games. There probably aren’t many lessons the Jazz can learn from this game that they haven’t been learning for several years already. If they want to turn the corner, winning the games they “should” win is the first step. The Jazz have two more “should” win home games coming up. First they’ll take on Denver, followed by Phoenix. These are by no means easy games, but they are games that a playoff contender should win at home. Teams who make the playoffs do so because they find ways to win, even when key players are injured. This team will need to regroup and find its spark before things get too out of hand.
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