Utah Jazz big men Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter started the game off by proving that when given the chance they can be quite the force to be reckoned with. Several strong moves to the basket gave the Jazz an early lead in Wednesday night’s game. That lead didn’t last long after Pelican guards Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday drained a few jump shots from the field and dished out a few smooth passes to center Anthony Davis for some easy buckets. The Jazz ended the first quarter down 22-29.
In the second quarter, Utah struggled to get easy points on the offensive side of the ball and had a difficult time stopping guard Tyreke Evans of the Pelicans as he scored 9 points in only 7:10 of playing time. Collectively, the Jazz allowed the Pelicans to score 26 points in the quarter. Gordon and Evans continued to show off their explosiveness by penetrating to the basket and dishing off the ball to their big men. The Jazz ended the half down 45-55.
The Pelicans didn’t hesitate to keep up the offensive pressure as they scored a quick six points in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Utah went on a few scoring sprees and brought the game within four points. With about three minutes left in the quarter, Jazz guard Gordon Hayward scored a clutch three-pointer to tie the game. Overall, Utah began to show some life and the crowd fed off of it. With high energy in the air, Utah ended the quarter only down 73-77.
With about seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, both teams exchanged several buckets and tied up the ball game at 87-87. With the game on the line, Hayward sank a three to give the Jazz their first lead since the first quarter. Later in the quarter, Favors scored a contested layup to give Utah its largest lead of the night, and with a few more turnovers from the Pelicans and both defensive and offensive rebounds by the Jazz, they were able to seal their first win of the season with a final score of 111-105.
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Newly acquired Diante Garrett showed signs of being a solid addition to the point guard core for the Jazz. He came into the game with some young energy and “swag.” John Lucas III struggled by shooting a disappointing 0-7 from the field.
Utah’s swingmen had a hard time shooting the ball in the first half of the game but turned on heat toward the end of the game when the team needed them most. While only behind by a few points, Gordon Hayward, Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams all sank 3-point daggers to seal the win down the stretch.
The big men had moments of praise but also displayed poor execution on the defensive side of the ball in the first half. They consistently broke down as the Pelican guards penetrated to the hoop and dished the ball off to their forwards and cutting wing players. In the middle of the third quarter, they began contesting every possible shot and ended up making the big stops that helped seal Utah’s first win of the season.
Coach Tyrone Corbin and his staff demonstrated a lot of poise and confidence in their young and newly acquired guard, Diante Garrett. They also did an excellent job with managing the time on the clock and calling crucial timeouts when they really mattered.
Though they struggled in the first half of Wednesday night’s game, they really showed Jazz Nation what we’ve been waiting to see, which is a young team being able to close out a tight game. The guard play was a bit haphazard at times, but down the stretch every member of the team seemed to contribute to the overall win.
The referees called a fair game Wednesday night. The crowd seemed to accept most their calls and the foul distribution was relatively even. Overall, they did an excellent job at managing a game that was an emotional roller-coaster for both players and fans alike.
New Orleans showed it is a tough team to beat even when on the road. Its guard play was superb and its big men stepped up when the team needed them. The coaching staff handled situations like true professionals. The team demonstrated that with its new additions this season, it is not a team to be ignored.
Given that it wasn’t a full house at EnergySolutions Arena, the crowd seemed to be relatively quiet during the first half of the game. As the third quarter rolled in, Utah gave the crowd something to cheer about. The crowd got into the game and showed true loyalty to a team that got off to a rough start to the season.