The Utah Jazz rode a seven-game win streak into their final game before the All-Star break, but Gordon Hayward and Co. didn’t have enough to make it eight on the second night of a back-to-back.
Gordon put up 21 points in a game-high 40 minutes on the court on Wednesday—one night after playing 45 in an overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks—but the Jazz fell 100-96 on the road to the New Orleans Pelicans.
G-Time added four rebounds, four assists and two steals to his solid scoring night, and despite the loss, he is entering the All-Star break pleased with the way his team is playing.
“Tough night for us, but overall we’re playing good basketball and we’ve got a lot of confidence going into the break,” Gordon said. “They were physical down the stretch. We couldn’t get the stops when we needed them tonight and[there were] too many turnovers also in the second half for us. We still battled and just came up a little short.”
Derrick Favors led all scorers with 29 points for the Jazz, including 10 of Utah’s first 16 points to give the Jazz a 16-8 lead. Gordon found himself wide open for a three-pointer at the top of the arc courtesy of a screen set by Trevor Booker, and H20 splashed it to give his team a 19-10 advantage with 3:46 left in the first quarter.
The Pelicans ended the first quarter on a 10-3 run, cutting the Jazz lead to 22-20. Jrue Holiday hit three buckets in the second quarter and finished with 21 points off the bench, as New Orleans grabbed hold of the lead late in the first half to go into halftime leading 47-45.
“Jrue was tough against us,” Gordon said. “He was driving both ways, he was looking for his floater and going through all his cuts. I think we all tried to stay in front of him and make other people beat us. But tonight, he was pretty good.”
No. 20 tied the game at 49 with 10:41 remaining in the third quarter with a tough bucket on the interior, then followed with a free throw to convert the three-point play and put the Jazz back in front.
The Jazz extended their lead when Gordon found a driving Rudy Gobert, who finished with a dunk at 4:48 in the third quarter to put the Jazz up 66-60. With just over two minutes in the third quarter, G-Time took a pass from Chris Johnson at the three-point line and powered through the lane for a dunk before the Pelicans defense could even get its feet set. On the highlight-reel play, Gordon emphatically kept the Jazz ahead 72-67.
H20 added a big triple with time running out in the third quarter to give the Jazz a 77-71 lead going into the fourth quarter. G-Time opened the fourth quarter by fighting off double coverage from Holiday and Alexis Ajinca to drain a short jumper. The basket gave Utah a 79-71 lead, but the Pelicans responded with an 8-0 run that tied the game with 8:15 to play.
With the score tied at 81, No. 20 scored the next five points for the Jazz, including jump shots from 15 and 19 feet away. The Pelicans answered each time, however, and with 4:26 remaining, Anthony Davis reached above the hoop for a putback that gave New Orleans a 87-86 lead.
The Jazz couldn’t grab more than a one-point lead from that point on. Davis made a critical three with 35 seconds left to give the Pelicans a 97-93 lead. That cushion allowed them to ice the game with free throws.
“We’re not going to let this loss hurt us,” Gordon said. “It was a tough night, but overall we’ve been playing good basketball. Unfortunately the ball didn’t fall our way tonight. But we’re going to learn and get better from here.”
Coming back from the All-Star break a day earlier than originally planned, the Utah Jazz will play their rescheduled game at the Washington Wizards (23-27) Thursday, Feb. 18. The Jazz will hope to come out of the All-Star break well-rested with plenty of offensive firepower, as the Wizards have allowed their past 15 opponents to score at least 100 points.
Washington plays its final game before the All-Star break at the Milwaukee Bucks Thursday.
The game between the Jazz and the Wizards tips off at 5 p.m. MT on ROOT.