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Game Preview: Pelicans at Jazz

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The Pelicans try to stop their two game losing skid at surprise playoff contender Utah

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Pelicans make their second trip to the Vivint Smart Home Arena this season in hopes that they can reverse their fortune from their first matchup with the Utah Jazz. The Jazz's 101-87 victory was the Pelicans' 13th loss of the season. Anthony Davis' 36 point, 11 rebound, 3 block performance was all for naught thanks to rather inept nights by his teammates.

Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson combined for a 2-16 shooting night; Jrue Holiday didn't quite carry his weight either and made as many field goals as I did. Which is to say, zero. Even more impressive was that Holiday had as many missed shots, four, as he did turnovers.

The biggest shame in Gordon, Anderson and Holiday's combined awfulness was that it offset rather healthy performances by the Pelican bench. Both Alonzo Gee and Toney Douglas put up 8 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists; Dante Cunningham collected 8 rebounds; and Ish Smith posted 13 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds.

Utah, on the other hand, got production from just about everyone who dressed. Trevor Booker, Gordon Hayward, and Rodney Hood all scored at least 13 points, and Alec Burks had 21 coming off the bench. Joe Ingles was a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc and had nine points in 10 minutes of action. What ultimately proved to be the deciding factor was Utah being superior to New Orleans in both rebounding and three point shooting. Utah out rebounded New Orleans by 14 and hit 50 percent of their threes while New Orleans only made 29 percent of theirs.

Keys to Victory

1. Protect the Three Point Line- Utah is a bit of an oddity when it comes to the three ball. Their eighth in the league in three point percentage, 36.3 percent, but they're 24th in three point attempts, shooting slightly over 21 a night. Why they don't shoot more is a mystery, especially since they have five players on the roster shooting at least 38 percent. New Orleans needs to make sure that on those rare occasions when Utah does attempt a three they contest the shot because they don't miss.

2. Win Down Low- Anthony Davis had one of his best games of the season last time the two teams met, and that was back when Utah had Rudy Gobert. Now thanks to a knee sprain, the Jazz will be without the Stifle Tower so Davis and Omer Asik should be able to control the glass and own the paint.

3. Not My Tempo- Utah is 25th in the league in points per game, but they're fifth in opposing points per game. They like to muck things up and with their DFL ranking in pace, they prefer to slow things down. If the Pelicans want to win this game, they'll have to play like what we expect an Alvin Gentry coached offense and get up and down the court. That means Tyreke Evans can't be his typical ball-stopping self and dribble the shot clock down to about five seconds. For the Pelicans to win, they can't let Utah dictate the pace of the game like they're J.K. Simmons conducting his band in Whiplash.