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The Roundup—Jazz 108, Pelicans 100
A day after clinching their first trip to the playoffs since the 2011-12 season, the Utah Jazz got one step closer to securing home-court advantage with a 108-100 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
With eight games remaining in the regular season, the Jazz (45-29) are sitting 1.5 games ahead of the LA Clippers in the race for the Western Conference's No. 4 seed.
Utah played without Gordon Hayward (quad), which led to more opportunities for Rodney Hood (20 points, his highest point total since March 5) and Joe Ingles (19 points).
Rudy Gobert continued to roll, finishing with 20 points, 19 rebounds and five blocks while going head-to-head with New Orleans superstar Anthony Davis. Over his last four games, Gobert has averaged 24.3 points (on 74.5 percent shooting), 15.5 rebounds and 4.8 blocks.
Speaking of Davis, he was all over the court in the loss, finishing with 36 points, 17 rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks. The majority of his points, though, came from either the perimeter or the free-throw line. The Pelicans (31-43) played without DeMarcus Cousins (ankle).
Ingles drew the start in place of Hayward and was phenomenal, especially during cruch time—he scored 10 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter to help Utah seal the victory. In all, Ingles shot 7-for-13 from the field (including a perfect 5-for-5 from 3-point range) and added four rebounds, four assists and a steal in 35 minutes.
New Orleans erased an 18-point deficit to take a two-point lead early in the third quarter, but the Jazz responded with a barrage of 3-pointers to take back control of the game. George Hill gave Utah the lead with a corner three, then—after a dunk by Gobert—Ingles and Joe Johnson connected on corner threes of their own to push Utah's lead back to eight. A free throw by Johnson, a layup by Neto and another dunk by Gobert capped Utah's 17-2 run.
The Pelicans tried to make another run midway through the fourth quarter, but Ingles responded with eight straight Jazz points (on two 3-pointers and a driving layup) to swing the momentum back Utah's way. Johnson drilled a tough step-back jumper, and then, after the ball was knocked into the backcourt, Hood sprinted right into a 3-pointer to give Utah a 10-point lead with 50.3 seconds left.
The Jazz were on fire from outside, shooting 15-for-27 (55.6 percent) as a team from 3-point range. Ingles (5-for-5) and Hood (4-for-7) led the way, while Hill (3-for-6), Johnson (2-for-3) and Raul Neto (1-for-3) also chipped in from deep.
The Jazz moved the ball well throughout the night, often making the extra pass (or two ... or three) instead of taking a contested shot. The result was 27 assists, significantly higher than the team's season average of 19.7 per game. Johnson dished a team-high six assists, while Hill finished with five. Ingles and Boris Diaw had four assists each.
Coach's Quote of the Night
"I think the most important thing for our team is just to stay focused on playing solid defense. That's who we've been, and that has to continue no matter who's in the game. ... If we do that, I'm ok with wherever we're seeded and whoever we play."
Jazz head coach Quin Snyder
Hill (17 points) and Johnson (14 points) also scored in double figures for the Jazz. ... Utah outrebounded New Orleans 49-37. ... Besides Hayward, Derrick Favors (knee) and Alec Burks (personal) were also out for the Jazz. ... Jrue Holiday finished with 19 points and five assists in the loss. ... The Pelicans are now 4.5 games behind Portland and Denver for the Western Conference's final playoff spot.
The Jazz will hit the road for a matchup with the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night. Tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m. MT, and the game will be televised on ROOT SPORTS.