Panzura postgame wrap: Pelicans 129, Jazz 124
Two days ago, Zion Williamson said he believed New Orleans was “close” to turning a corner this season. With Williamson taking over Monday’s game in the third quarter and the likes of Lonzo Ball and JJ Redick now playing at their highest level of 2020-21, the Pelicans posted their most impressive victory to date, beating league-best Utah.
Williamson’s 15-point third quarter helped turn a five-point halftime deficit into an 11-point lead through three quarters, before Redick supplied eight quick points in the fourth to expand that advantage. Ball kept New Orleans close in the opening half by depositing a team-high 14 points.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Down five points, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell misfired on a leaning three-pointer from the right wing, leading to Williamson tipping out the rebound. Ball eventually dribbled out the final seconds, leading to cheers of excitement and relief in the Smoothie King Center.
Ball had drilled a three-pointer from straightaway to give New Orleans a seemingly comfortable 122-108 lead with 3:53 left, but the Jazz were not going down quietly, putting together a 16-3 run to pull within a point.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Williamson showed absolutely no fear in going right at multi-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, repeatedly driving into the 7-footer’s chest for physical layups. The second-year pro’s 15-point third period was the second-most he’s scored in any quarter of his career, per ESPN Stats & Info. Williamson shot 10/17 from the field, doing all of that damage in or near the paint, notching a double-double of 26 points and 10 rebounds.
BY THE NUMBERS
74: New Orleans points in the paint, the most a Utah opponent has scored there in 25 seasons.
11: Three-point attempts by the Pelicans, the fewest in a game by any NBA winning team in four seasons, according to ESPN.
40-24: Pelicans scoring edge in the third quarter. Ball describing NOLA’s emphasis on that part of the game: “We tried to come out (of the locker room) with a lot of energy. We knew Utah is having a great season, especially in third quarters – they usually dominate. That was the focus for today, and we did what we were supposed to do.”
Revisiting three keys to victory
DEFEND THE ARC
Bad in the first half, much better in the second. Utah threatened to beat New Orleans from deep again by going 11/24 prior to intermission, but the Jazz went just 6/19 after, finishing 17/43.
MOVE THE BALL
New Orleans accumulated 27 assists, including 15 in the opening half. The Pelicans averaged just 22 in their two-game series loss in Salt Lake City in mid-January.
CENTERS OF ATTENTION
Steven Adams was already in double-digit rebounding midway through the third quarter, while Rudy Gobert was quiet in that category but intimidating under the basket defensively. Gobert ended up with a very impactful second half. He totaled 22 points and nine rebounds.