On the second night of a back to back, the New Orleans Pelicans couldn’t find their offense in Utah losing, 108-100. The game had important home-court advantage incentives for the Utah Jazz going into the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. The Los Angeles Clippers are close on their tail and have the tiebreaker with a 3-1 series lead. An important win here as the Jazz maintain a one-and-a-half game lead over the Clips. The loss brings the New Orleans Pelicans playoff hopes to a slim chance at this point, as they will need to be near perfect in their remaining eight games to catch the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets.
Pelicans lose 108-100 in Utah despite 36 points, 17 rebounds from Anthony Davis. NOLA now 5 games back of 8th seed with 8 games to play.
— Justin Verrier (@JustinVerrier) March 28, 2017
TNT programmers were kicking themselves when they found out two All-Star’s from tonight’s broadcast would be scratched from the lineup due to injury. Gordon Hayward (left quad) and DeMarcus Cousins (right ankle) would be held out of Monday night’s contest. This is DeMarcus Cousins fourth game missed due to injury out of the 17 games he has been with the New Orleans Pelicans. The New Orleans Pelicans have been surging, winning six of their last eight games while the Utah Jazz had dropped four out of five. However, the Vivint Smart Home Arena has been a nightmare for the Pelicans, only winning in Utah twice in nine games over the last five seasons.
The game turned into the battle of the big men between Anthony Davis and Rudy Gobert. Both 24 years old and both have go-go-gadget wingspan to alter shots. Gobert leads the league with 2.61 blocks per game. Davis is second in the league averaging 2.20 blocks per game. Anthony Davis learned quickly he would need to hit some outside jumpers after getting denied on an inside layup by the “Stifle Tower” and he was stroking early. At one point “The Brow” had scored 10 straight points for his team and cut a once 15-point deficit to just five at the half, thanks in large part to his work getting to the charity stripe.
Anthony Davis averaging career-best 8.7 foul shots per game this season (previous high was 7.0) thanks partly to drawing contact like this https://t.co/1BVaEKnpYq
— Jim Eichenhofer (@Jim_Eichenhofer) March 28, 2017
Utah coach, Quin Snyder, made an excellent decision to double down on AD in the second half. Gobert and the rest of the Jazz tenacious defense held AD scoreless for over 13 minutes at one point. The game remained close until Joe Ingles and Joe Johnson caught fire. Ingles shot five for five from beyond the arc finishing with 19 points on the night. Johnson contributed 31 minutes off the bench to score 14 points and showed flashes of his time with the Atlanta Hawks and their fourth quarter offensive strategy, “Iso-Joe.” Classic combination dribble with a leaning off balance fade away shot to put the Jazz up by eight sealed the deal. Rebounding advantage (+12) and the long ball (15-27) gave the Jazz a win and some cushion in the fourth place spot.
Rudy Gobert showed signs of more than just a Defensive Player of the Year candidate as he scored 20 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, and blocked 5 shots. If the NBA doesn’t give this man the DPOY then he at least deserves the Most Improved Player of the Year
New Orleans Pelicans fans should not hang their head on this loss as it was a tough opponent on the second night of the back-to-back without Boogie. Good things to note include Anthony Davis playing in his 70th game of the season. Due to injury, AD’s previous record was 68 games in one season. AD also had his 15th 30+ point and 15+ rebound game this season. The record is held by Shaquille O’Neal with 18 games during the 1999-00 season. One last plus is that we won’t have to sit through another horrible broadcasting crew with Lisa Leslie stumbling through interviews and Brett Barry reading from a teleprompter all game.