Game Preview: Pelicans vs. Jazz - March 28, 2014
Two of the premier players to come out of the two most recent NBA draft classes will be on the floor Friday night in the Smoothie King Center, when the New Orleans Pelicans host the Utah Jazz. It’s the third of four meetings this season between the Western Conference squads; both teams prevailed on their home floor back in mid-November.
New Orleans enters Friday's game on a season-best four-game winning streak, beating four teams that would be in the playoffs if the postseason began today: Atlanta, Miami, Brooklyn and the Clippers.
The No. 1 overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis is in the stretch run of his first All-Star season. Davis’ breakthrough campaign, which should put him in contention for the league’s Most Improved Player award, has been highlighted by a dominant month of March. During a recent eight-game span, Davis tallied at least 28 points. The eight consecutive games of 28-plus points set a new franchise record.
Meanwhile, Jazz point guard Trey Burke was the No. 9 selection of the 2013 NBA Draft and has quickly proven to be one of the best rookies to come out of last year’s oft-maligned class. Burke was at a disadvantage to other first-year pros after he sustained a broken finger during preseason, causing him to miss the season’s first dozen games. Utah struggled mightily without its promising floor general, going just 1-11 during that span.
Coincidentally, the Jazz’s only early-season victory sans Burke came Nov. 13 vs. New Orleans. Utah posted a 111-105 win, after opening the campaign with an 0-8 record. The franchise’s all-time worst start to a season actually happened in the Crescent City, when the 1974-75 New Orleans Jazz began 0-11.
On Nov. 20 of this season, the Pelicans evened the season series with the Jazz by notching a 105-98 win. Burke made his official NBA debut that night, but Davis’ 22-point, nine-rebound, eight-block, four-assist performance carried New Orleans to a victory. The Pelicans’ second- and third-leading scorers on Nov. 20 were the then-healthy Ryan Anderson (19 points) and Jrue Holiday (14 points).
Anthony Davis vs. Derrick Favors