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New Orleans Pelicans defense stymies Utah Jazz in 108-98 victory

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New Orleans is 7-0 on the season when holding opponents to under 100 points.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Utah Jazz Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans have started the 2018 calendar year on the right foot, posting a 108-98 win over the Jazz on Wednesday evening in the difficult to play Utah surroundings.

One minute into the fourth quarter, the Pelicans had built an impressive 84-72 lead, but the Jazz proceeded to go on a 9-0 to make it a close three-point margin. Yet instead of giving up the rest of the advantage — and possibly so much more, New Orleans bounced back in #DoItBig fashion as the combination of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis went to work down low. Over the final 7:20, the duo combined for four offensive rebounds, seven free throws and 12 points inside the painted area to put the game on ice.

Davis finished with a game-high 29 points and added 15 rebounds, four assists and three steals. Despite some foul trouble, Cousins also recorded a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds, and he deserves some applause for his efficiency. Boogie never looked out of control and took a lot of smart shots which included six attempts around the rim.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Utah Jazz Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

After torturing the Pelicans for 41 points in a win nearly a month ago, Donovan Mitchell didn’t come close to replicating the feat as he finished with 24 points on 17 field goal attempts. Jrue Holiday and the New Orleans defense behind him did a masterful job of zeroing in on rookie phenom, and Head Coach Alvin Gentry lauded his squad for this accomplishment in his postgame comments.

“I thought we were really good defensively, especially taking away Mitchell after what he did to us in the last game,” said Gentry. “Thought he was really good and had three baskets at the end of the game, but all in all I thought Jrue locked in on him and did a really good job.”

Speaking of Holiday, he also contributed well on the offensive end, downright carrying the Pelicans throughout the first half where he scored 18 of his 24 points.

In just 15 minutes of action, Rajon Rondo tallied 12 points, three rebounds and three assists. When asked about his starting point guard’s limited minutes, Gentry replied, “It’s just that we thought that having that defensive unit and having size out there was the way we’d go tonight.”

Following two subpar games of shooting the three-point shot, the Pelicans regained their touch from the outside by converting on 14 of their 30 attempts from deep. Conversely, the Jazz struggled immensely, knocking down just seven of their 32 attempts.

This discrepancy would have been more noticeable were it not for several things. First, Utah lived well around the rim, beating New Orleans 56-44 in points in the paint. Additionally, the Pelicans committed 20 turnovers that led to 18 points for the Jazz. Interestingly though, New Orleans has fared well in games this season when they’ve recorded 20 or more turnovers, winning three of four contests.

Up next, the Pelicans get two days off before facing the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday. Hopefully, their hot shooting won’t be cooled by the expected frigid temperatures up north!

Geaux Pels!