SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 27: Rudy Gay #8 of the Utah Jazz is pressured by Garrett Temple #41 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of their game at the Vivint Smart Home Arena on November 27, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

Five Things To Know Following Utah's Win Over New Orleans

Whether it was seven players scoring in double figures or the team taking accountability after Friday's game, the Jazz looked like championship contenders on Saturday night

After what happened on Friday night, it was expected that Utah would come out on Saturday with a much more concentrated effort on both ends of the court.

The Jazz did that — and much more.

Jumping out to a double-digit lead at the end of the first quarter, Utah never looked back and cruised to a 127-105 victory over New Orleans — with the final score indicating a much closer game than reality.

"Things that were different tonight than last night are things that we need to have focus on and continue to make them important no matter who we're playing," head coach Quin Snyder said postgame. "I think everybody was focused on the details of the game that could help the team. … Our focus was on the group."

Here are five things you need to know following the win:

1.) Jazz Look Like Championship Contender
There are two ways to look at Utah's start to the season.

One on end, the team has not looked like the championship contender they entered the season as. The offense and defense have struggled at times and looked out of sync, leading to slow starts and brutal endings.

On the other end, the Jazz were 12-7 and tied for the fourth-best record in the league, and sitting in third place in the deep Western Conference.

Regardless of how one may look at the first 19 games of the season, there's no doubt what sort of team Utah looked like on Saturday in the 20th game. 

Led by seven players in double figures, the Jazz dominated on both ends of the court against New Orleans, leading by as many as 40 points in the fourth quarter. It was the sort of performance that could spark something special in Utah and pick them out of what has been perceived as an early-season funk.

Only time will tell how this game is remembered, but for one night in November, the Jazz reminded the rest of the league how dangerous they are when they bring their 'A' game.

"We talked about the difference between being self-centered and selfish. … We're not a selfish team," Snyder said. "I think we as people can have that; that's our nature to think about ourselves. Tonight we were thinking about our teammate, thinking about the team. … The whole is greater than the sum of the parts."

2.) Donovan Mitchell Nearly Notches Triple-Double
When Mitchell walked off the court Friday night following Utah's stunning loss to New Orleans, the look on his face said it all.

It wasn't anger in his eyes — it was disbelief and disappointment. He finished the game with 16 points, shooting 6-for-21 from the field — no shot bigger missed than his layup with under five seconds to play. He reiterated his feelings during his postgame press conference, constantly shaking his head when looking at the box score.

He was blunt when asked about the game, saying, "This is a test of character. I'm not going to let this deter me from what I've been doing, but in the same token, I've just got to be better."

Mitchell was just that on Saturday night in the rematch.

In just 27 minutes of action, Mitchell finished with a near triple-double of 21 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. He was in constant attack mode that led to better efficiency scoring, and opened up the rest of the offense for his teammates. 

"I watched the film of last night's game, and when I talked to you guys, it felt worse than what it looked like to me," Mitchell said following the victory. "I had a good game tonight, and I've got to do it on Monday, and I've got the day after that. It's good to have a good game, but at the end of the day, that's what I'm supposed to do."

3.) Offense Finds A Rhythm In Impressive Showing
After struggling from the floor in the first meeting between these two teams, Utah broke out in a big way on Saturday night.

The Jazz put on a clinic of efficiency on offense, shooting 56.3% (45-for-80) from the field and 57.1% (20-for-35) from beyond the arc. Seven players finished in double figures scoring, with five of them having at least three three-pointers in the game.

The 127 points scored was a season-high.

With Royce O'Neale out with an injury, Joe Ingles got the start in his place and finished with 15 points and five rebounds. Mike Conley added 20 points (8-of-12 shooting from the floor and 4-of-7 from beyond the arc) as eight different players finished with a +13 rating or better.

The most significant difference for the Jazz tonight compared to games earlier in the season was the spacing and play-making of everyone. The team passed up good shots for great shots, and it reflected in the box score.

Already with the league's top-rated offense, Saturday night was the sort of performance that shows how dangerous this team is when playing unselfish.

"We've had games where we would do it for a couple of possessions but, when we're really good, we do it for a whole game," Conley said about sharing the ball. "I think everybody kind of fed off each other. To see it happen tonight against a team that gave us problems the night before, it was encouraging, and hopefully, we take a lesson from that."

4.) Utah's Depth Proves To Be Difference Maker
As noted above with O'Neale out of the lineup, super sixth man Ingles was thrust into the starting and delivered in a big way. But with Ingles filling that role, it meant that Utah's depth might've taken a hit.

That wasn't the case against the Pelicans.

Jordan Clarkson scored 20 points, Hassan Whiteside added 10 as Utah's second unit scored 54 points on the night. The Jazz depth is much deeper than initially thought — especially with the addition of Rudy Gay.

His addition to the team has been a welcome sight, and he showed again how valuable he's going to be moving forward. The versatile veteran added 13 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, finishing with a +32 rating in just 23 minutes of action.

Whether it be in the post, finding his shot from beyond the arc (4-for-4), or creating for his teammates (season-high in assists), Gay has been better than advertised. 

"He's really really good," Clarkson said of his new teammate. "We saw him today a lot in the post makings some plays, spreading the floor as well."

5.) Accountability Holds True For Veteran Team
Following Friday's loss to New Orleans, Snyder and the Jazz didn't hold back on comments regarding the team's play. But some of the fiercest words came from three-time defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert, one of the team's most competitive players who expects greatness.

"I don't know how many times we're going to have to lose in the playoffs," Gobert said Friday night. "I'm going to be 30 or probably 40 by then. I don't know how many years we're going to be losing in the playoffs without learning. … We're doing the same stuff over and over and over."

It was the sort of comment that, if said on a young and inexperienced team, could potentially fracture a locker room — especially when Gobert finished with a -7 rating. 

But the Jazz aren't young, and they aren't inexperienced. They are a team vying for a championship, and by their standards set, they weren't living up to them. 

While Gobert statistically wasn't as good against the Pelicans, he finished with a +20 rating and did many small things that allowed the Jazz to be successful and thrive on both ends of the court.

The accountability shown by the team on Friday night and then rectified 24 hours later is the sort of mojo that champions are made of. Utah was a team waiting to explode, you could feel it in the postgame presser on Friday. They did just that on Saturday, which could now lead to bigger and better things.

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