The Jazz on Wednesday night didn't just win a road contest. As opposed to other games where they may have won ugly away from EnergySolutions Arena (see Nov. 17 at Washington, D.C.), the Jazz played smoothly in New Orleans. Utah improved to 3-7 on the road in shooting 48 percent from the field while forcing 19 turnovers.
GUARDS: Jamaal Tinsley (5 assists, 4 turnovers, 2 steals) was hardly effective in his fourth start of the season. He's not a scoring threat for this team, but a scoreless performance with one shot attempt in 31 minutes makes it easier than it needs to be for opposing teams to defend Utah's point-guard position. What's worse, his counterpart, Greivis Vasquez (18 points, 8 assists), was much better. Tinsley and his team benefited from his foul trouble. Five fouls may have kept him from playing more than 34 minutes. The 10th-year guard registered his lowest assist total in five games. Randy Foye's 1-of-3 evening from distance marked his worst single-game 3-point shooting effort with at least three tries since an 0-4 showing Nov. 10 against Phoenix. Entering Wednesday, he'd shot 19 of 37 in the eight games since then. But Roger Mason, Jr. (7 points on 3-of-7 shooting) hardly outplayed him. GRADE: C-.
FORWARDS: Considering Derrick Favors went for nine (points) and eight (rebounds) less than 17 minutes, it's a good thing Paul Millsap (16 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) and Marvin Williams (16 points, 2-of-3 3-point attempts) played well. Still, Millsap's 3-of-7 shooting night marked his second-lowest of the season (the worst was 2 of 7 Nov. 7 against the Lakers) with at least seven attempts — and he's only attempted less than that number once this season. Marvin Williams' 4-of-7 showing marked his best night from the field since going 6 of 9 in the Nov. 12 triple-overtime rally at Toronto. The forwards can also feel good about limiting Hornet starting forwards Ryan Anderson and Al-Farouq Aminu to a combined 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting. The two have averaged 29 points collectively. GRADE: A-.
CENTERS: Al Jefferson (19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks) and Robin Lopez (18 points, 7 rebounds) effectively matched each other — though the latter played five fewer minutes. A fifth-year pro, Lopez entered the contest averaging worse (10.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game). But Big Al was hardly a defensively liability away from the ball. Jefferson has tallied eight or less rebounds for four straight games after a nine-game streak of nine or more. GRADE: C+.
BENCH: The Jazz bench deserves good marks after outscoring the Hornet reserves 38-28. Utah was lead by Favors and Gordon Hayward (15 points and 2 steals in 23 minutes), though four turnovers don't help the third-year player's cause. Hayward hadn't shot 50 percent or better from the field in six contests (he went 3 of 6 in a Nov. 16 loss at Philadelphia). No New Orleans bench player was tremendously detrimental to the Jazz. GRADE: B+.
OVERALL: OK, this was against a team that's now 4-10. And they didn't force a turnover in the fourth quarter — when it mattered most. But the Jazz's performance Wednesday would have been good enough to beat most teams. Coach Tyrone Corbin and the group really needs to use this quality road performance as a springboard to leap away from their road ills. That would be helpful considering Friday's matchup at Oklahoma City. GRADE: B.
Rhett Wilkinson studies interesting stuff at USU, loves public affairs and is the co-founder of Aggie BluePrint, USU's first student magazine. Previously a Deseret News intern, he can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter: @wilklogan
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