Pelicans.com postgame: Pelicans 105, Jazz 98
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
The New Orleans Pelicans aren’t scheduled to play the Utah Jazz again until March 28, a period of more than four months. The Pelicans probably won’t mind the break.
For the second straight Wednesday, the Jazz made the Pelicans work for everything they got, but this time couldn’t finish off a late comeback. After losing 111-105 in Salt Lake City last week, New Orleans (5-6) outplayed Utah (1-12) in the fourth quarter, securing its second straight victory after a 3-6 start to the regular season. The Pelicans made 13 of their 18 shots in the final period, pulling away late after what had been a closely contested Western Conference matchup.
Utah was within 73-71 of the lead a minute into the fourth quarter, but for the second straight game, New Orleans received a big boost from its backups. Over the next three minutes, the Pelicans went on a 14-2 run, with reserves scoring all of the points. After two Tyreke Evans layups, Anthony Morrow drained a three-pointer, followed by a pair of Ryan Anderson treys. The spurt finally gave New Orleans some breathing room at 87-73 with 8:14 remaining.
“We had a slow start, but we just battled through it,” said Anderson (19 points, 4-for-6 on treys), who delivered his second straight quality performance since returning from injury Saturday. “We really made some great defensive plays down the stretch and played team basketball. We made great shots and really shared the ball. We had a little bit of a lapse (earlier in the game), but you’ve just got to fight back.”
Among the New Orleans starters, Anthony Davis excelled by registering 22 points, nine rebounds and eight blocked shots, giving him a gaudy total of 17 rejections so far on a two-game homestand that concludes Friday vs. Cleveland. After resting early in the fourth quarter, Davis checked back in with 7:35 remaining, immediately after the second unit had wrested control of the game away from Utah.
“Tyreke, Anthony Morrow, Austin Rivers and Ryan came in (and swung the momentum),” Davis said. “Our bench is good. They give us (the starters) a tough time in practice. They kick our butts. They make us better and we’re trying to make them better, for situations like this.”
“It’s nice to be able to plug guys in, especially when the starters don’t have their normal juice and I didn’t think collectively the starters had it tonight,” Coach Monty Williams said. “I thought Tyreke came in and gave us an edge, Ryan as well, and I thought Austin did a particularly good job in the second half of just agitating whatever was going on. I wouldn’t call it a luxury yet because we’re a work in progress, but it was nice to be able to go to the bench.”
For most of the first three quarters, the Jazz and Pelicans slogged through a game that was not the most aesthetically pleasing contest of the young NBA season. New Orleans held a 45-41 halftime lead and remained up at 73-69 through three quarters. The Pelicans entered Wednesday ranked sixth of 30 NBA teams in foul shooting, but were a below-average 17 of 26 from the stripe through three periods. They were 2-for-11 from three-point range entering the final 12 minutes, despite coming into Wednesday’s games ranked third in the NBA in percentage beyond the arc (only Golden State and Miami had been better).
New Orleans played much more efficiently in the fourth, however, shooting 72.2 percent from the field and going 3-for-4 on three-pointers.
“Coach told us to pick it up,” Davis said. “So we came out with a lot of energy on defense after halftime. We had to do that. They started making a run at us, so we had to calm that run. We made our own run.”