The Utah Jazz thrashed the New Orleans Pelicans 127-94 Wednesday night, showing fans what a focused defense and heady offense should do to a floundering opponent. The 33-point loss was the biggest margin in defeat this season and the most lopsided outcome to the Jazz this century.
Utah let Terrence Jones do what he wanted as he iso’d his way to 21 points and 8 rebounds. After a hot shooting start from him, Jrue Holiday and E’Twuan Moore, the Pelicans struggled from the field for most of the 2nd half and it was over near the conclusion of the third quarter.
A bad, uninspired, boring night — Hell, if I was a Jazzman, I’d have been angry the competition was so poo.
Despite shooting 61.5 percent from the floor in the first half, Nola was down 62-53. This was mostly due to a lack of free throw attempts (3), made 3s (3) and untimely turnovers by the good guys. Basically, the Pels made a bunch of mid-range and post shots in the first half that a) still left them down by 9 and b) weren’t sustainable in the second half. It was a team out-smarting and out-executing another to an embarrassing degree. It only got worse, so I shifted my eye to this recap; the Pelicans didn’t deserve any more attention.
Tony Kornheiser, when he was still writing, said in a tribute to the famed sportswriter Shirley Povich that his writing was “so sharp that when [he] took you apart... you never felt the blade, you only saw the blood.” I love this turn of phrase and believe it applies to this game. Utah was a team functioning as a whole that silently and expertly destroyed a more confused, sloppy collection of veteran guys. I mean how else can you explain an old Joe Johnson recording 27 points from off the bench on 10-14 shooting and 6-8 from three?
Anthony Davis (12 points, 10 rebounds, 6 blocks) was mostly absent on offense and Jrue couldn’t get enough done as a playmaker for the team to keep up with the suddenly hot Jazz offense. At half, Jazz radio man and head of the “Locked On” podcast series spotlighted the Utah O.
Jazz have scored 182 points in last 6 quarter v. #4 and #8 defensive teams in the NBA— David Locke (@Lockedonsports) February 9, 2017
Utah has been waiting for this year to come ever since they discarded Enes Kanter and established a defensive gameplan. It’s working and AD will team up with first-time All Star Gordon Hayward in a couple weeks. Favors might become redundant, especially considering the money they’ll have to offer him, but even if he’s not there in two years, the Jazz are likely to hold pieces like Hayward, Gobert, Dante Exum (11 points, 5 assists), Rodney Hood (injured), and Trey Lyles (8 points) who is patiently waiting in the wings. Keeping George Hill was reported as a “priority” for the team at the beginning of the season and he may be worth a pretty, but justifiable, penny.
Where’d they go?
I legitimately don’t remember a Jrue Holiday-led possession in the second half and couldn’t tell you where AD was on offense in the first half. There was a lot of Terrence Jones, which worked out okay, but going to him stopped the team from generating real ball and player movement.
There aren’t many “AD isn’t good enough to lead this team” people out there, and I’m definitely not one of them, but tonight was a piece of evidence for that crowd. At worst, AD is too focused on his own jumper, doesn’t initiate offense and doesn’t put his athletic gifts to use enough - he’s normally dragging down the court, barely crossing the timeline before receiving a pass from the wing to get the team in motion. At worst, he’s still very talented and will produce points, rebounds and blocks, but not wins. Again, it was just a bad night for him, in my opinion. How will he react at the next team gathering? Next practice? Or game? Wish I was a fly on the wall to see what he’s like right now.
Well, this is THE topic about the Pelicans, other than a potential trade for Sixers big man Jahlil Okafor. Basically in the past five years, nothing has worked out. The Ryan Anderson/Eric Gordon combo failed, due in no small part, to injuries. But at the end of the day, it didn’t work. AD has made the playoffs once in his first five seasons. Jrue has been mostly injured, although he has played well as of late. Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca don’t even play anymore. Solomon Hill and E’Twuan Moore seem to be better fits on already-good teams (who doesn’t see Moore as a future Spur, by the way?). Dante Cunningham is still hanging around doing, well, whatever. It’s just... well, it’s a mess, and it’s a veteran-led mess. Does firing the GM fix these problems? I’m no cap expert, but the answer seems like ‘no’ with contracts too long for a mostly-veteran team that loses too much.
#FireDell? Much like the team’s near-term outlook, I’m very ‘meh.’