Gordon Hayward and the Utah Jazz knew they were going to face a challenge from the new-look New Orleans Pelicans featuring both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins down low, but they used a strong start and stifling defense to capture the win Monday night.
Gordon scored eight of his game-high 23 points in the first quarter, pushing the Jazz out to a 15-point lead after the first quarter. From there, they used the NBA’s best defense to lock down an 88-83 win.
“I think that’s one reason we won the game,” Hayward said. “We came out the way we did and gave ourselves a little bit of a lead. You could tell they were going to make a run and they did, but I think that cushion helped us a lot tonight. Guys were tired mentally and physically, so this was a great win for us.”
Hayward added five more points in the second quarter, as the Jazz transitioned to a defensive battle.
Both teams were held to under 21 points for the second and third quarters. It was a great effort from the Jazz, considering they were playing the back end of a back-to-back with the front end going into overtime.
The Jazz never trailed, and Hayward scored six of his 10 second-half points in the fourth quarter to seal the deal.
Along with his 23 points, G-Time added seven rebounds in 36 minutes. Hayward was the game’s leading scorer, shooting 10-of-20 from the field.
Rudy Gobert played a crucial role in the game, finishing with 15 points and 15 rebounds while also doing a good job of contending with both Davis and Cousins on the interior.
Up next the Jazz will play the team directly ahead of them in the conference standings, the Houston Rockets.
It’s a matchup of Houston’s strong offense vs. Utah’s strong defense. If Utah wants to win, they’ll need Hayward to continue his hot shooting touch.