The Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans will get to know each other quite well this weekend. The teams play each other in a rare back-to-back at the same location, with Game 1 of their two-game set taking place Friday night in Salt Lake City and then a Saturday match.
Both the Jazz and Pelicans come into their busy weekend having picked up wins that they deemed necessary. Utah edged the Oklahoma City Thunder110-104 on Wednesday after squandering a late lead in a 119-118 home loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, and New Orleans trounced the Washington Wizards 127-102 at home after disappointing showings at the Indiana Pacers and against the Minnesota Timberwolves at home.
The last minute of Utah’s victory over the Thunder was almost therapeutic for Donovan Mitchell, who had missed a game-winning attempt at the buzzer against the Grizzlies followed by a 4-for-14 shooting performance and just seven points through the first 47 minutes vs. OKC.
But Mitchell rose to the occasion, scoring six consecutive points to help Utah win for the fourth time in five games.
“It’s what I do,” Mitchell said. “At the end of the day, sometimes you’ve just got to go out there and just get it. My team trusts me, I trust myself, I put the work in for those moments and never let the moment get too big. I missed the game-winner the other night, so you’ve got to respond.”
With Mitchell struggling most of the night, the Jazz were in a position to win thanks to Jordan Clarkson’s 20 points off the bench, an 18-point night by Mike Conley and another Rudy Gobert double-double of 15 points and 17 rebounds.
“It was a good game,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think the score reflected the way we played as a group. We had some breakdowns, but we had a lot of good things that we can look back on and be proud of. They hit some shots, but to close out the way we did is what we wanted.”
The Pelicans stepped up after getting beaten badly at home by the Timberwolves. They’ve now won two of four games after losing 11 of their previous 12.
“I just didn’t think we played as hard as we are capable of (against Minnesota) and I didn’t coach to my ability and that’s a letdown to our organization, to our community, to our team — and I spoke to the team about that,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “I’m proud of the way they responded.”
Brandon Ingram led the way with 26 points, with Jonas Valanciunas contributing 21 points and 11 rebounds.
“I like that we responded,” said Ingram, who hit just 2 of 13 shots against Minnesota. “It looked like we took it personal, came out with a little more pop today.”
The Pelicans visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday before returning home. For Utah, Friday’s game is the first of a four-game homestand.
–Field Level Media