Utah Jazz report card: Guards lead the way as Jazz pick up home win in tight battle
Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Looking to snap a five-game losing streak, the Utah Jazz did just that by relying on strong guard play and a big night from Derrick Favors to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 100-96 Friday night.
The Jazz overcame 17 turnovers by shooting 51.6 percent from the field while also hitting 10 more free throws than the Pelicans. Utah hit 30-of-36 while New Orleans was 20-for-29.
While at times it wasn't the prettiest game between two sub-.500 squads, the contest stayed close throughout. Though Utah took a 10-point lead late in the third quarter, New Orleans fought its way back into the game and had a chance to tie it late on a 3-pointer. But Darius Miller's shot went awry, and the Jazz closed out the home victory.
Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks took turns pacing the Jazz attack, as the duo combined for 42 points, seven assists and four steals.
Hayward hit shots during several key moments for the Jazz, finishing the night with 21 points, six assists and four rebounds. His three steals also proved pivotal, helping Utah finish with 18 fast-break points.
Burks tied Hayward with a team-high 21 points and provided a spark off the bench, scoring five points in the opening period to keep the contest close despite six first-quarter turnovers for the Jazz.
Perhaps the biggest impact Hayward and Burks had, though, was their ability to get to the free-throw line. Burks finished 13-for-13 from the charity stripe, while Hayward was 11-for-13.
Point guard Trey Burke had a relatively quiet night — he scored just six points on 3-of-7 shooting — but his eight assists led the team.
Richard Jefferson earned plenty of minutes early in the game and hit back-to-back shots for the Jazz in the opening period; as the game wore on, though, Jefferson's minutes diminished and he finished the night with seven points in just over 19 minutes of play.
Like Burks, Marvin Williams provided the Jazz with solid minutes and strong shooting off the bench. His leadership on the court also appeared to help the younger players who played extended minutes. Jeremy Evans' highlight of the night came on an alley-oop dunk off an assist from Ian Clark in the second quarter.
Overall, Utah's forwards had a solid, if unspectacular, night.
Favors, listed as the team's power forward but who played plenty of minutes at center, started to dominate in the second half. Of his 20 points, 16 came in the second half when he was able to easily glide past the Pelican defenders and get to the rim. He also came up big on defense with four blocked shots.
Enes Kanter got off to a strong start, scoring six of the team's first eight points. After that, though, his impact — and minutes — decreased.
This grade would have been higher had Kanter not gone quiet for the better part of two quarters, as well as the fact Kanter and Favors combined for nine turnovers.
The performances of Burks and Williams were the bright spot for the Jazz off the bench; the trio of Evans, Clark and Diante Garrett did little in their combined 44 minutes on the court.
New Orleans' bench also outscored the Jazz bench, 46-35.
In the third quarter, Tyrone Corbin went with a guard-heavy lineup for several minutes, with Favors manning the center position. The move paid off, as the Jazz built their largest lead of the night during that stretch and led the remainder of the game.
Corbin also gave plenty of the younger players on the team the chance to play valuable minutes.
Anthony Morrow came up big for New Orleans, scoring 26 points off the bench while hitting all three of his 3-point attempts, many at crucial junctures. The Pelicans also overcame a poor shooting start to the game — New Orleans shooting 38.1 percent in the first quarter — and led at the half by two points.
But the Jazz's run in the third quarter spelled doom for the Pelicans, and a rough night for the team's leading scorer, Anthony Davis — who had eight points and six rebounds while battling back spasms — were too much to overcome.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @brandonljudd
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