NEW ORLEANS — The Jazz turned heads Wednesday with a blistering second-half performance, giving Dallas quite the spook on Halloween.
Perhaps they ate too much candy in the past couple of days.
Utah managed just 41 percent shooting and clanked half their free throws against New Orleans, many who have picked to finish last in the Western Conference. Letting no-namers Al-Farouq Aminu and Greivis Vasquez excel, the Jazz lost 88-86 Friday night.
Guards: Mo Williams (16 points, four rebounds) and Gordon Hayward (14 points, four rebounds, three assists) were encouraging offensively — although Williams shot just 6 of 16 following his 21-point outing Wednesday to debut his second Utah go-around. Randy Foye (20 points 4-of-7 three-point shooting, 27 minutes) was perhaps most excellent of the three on the more fun side of the floor. All three have now scored in double-figures in both regular season outings. Hornet starting guards Austin Rivers and Vazquez (5-of-17 shooting, five turnovers) collectively struggled. GRADE: B+
Forwards: They may have combined for 34 points and 18 rebounds in 61 minutes against the Mavericks, but Paul Millsap and Marvin Williams were far less effective Friday. The two this time combined for just 16 points and nine rebounds on 7-of-17 shooting in 54 minutes. Their counterparts sure did better. Aminu and rookie Anthony Davis combined for 23 points and 14 rebounds on 11-of-16 shooting in 49 minutes — less time than the Jazz frontliners. And Ryan Anderson (19 points, six rebounds, 31 minutes) sure helped the New Orleans cause. GRADE: C-
Centers: Al Jefferson (10 points, eight rebounds, 5-of-13 shooting) was out-played Friday night. That wasn't the case on Wednesday only because Elton Brand (2-of-8 shooting) and others played poorly. Robin Lopez (19 points, seven rebounds, 9-of-16 shooting) came ready to play and seemed much more spry than the veteran Brand. Enes Kanter was OK in less than 20 minutes, but occasionally made it difficult for himself to be more effective with four fouls. And the bigs (he and Millsap) must give their three-turnover cushion to the guards. GRADE: C-
Bench: Ultimately, it was even in this category (Hornet reserves 31, Jazz bench 30). Must call attention to Derrick Favors' nine rebounds in 22:34. But Foye was the story here. Was he expected to score 33 points in his first 48 minutes as a Jazzman? That's surely encouraging. Outside of Anderson, New Orleans reserves were subdued. Utah wasn't beat here. GRADE: C
Overall: Most might expect the Jazz to play much better given their season-opening performance. They struggled on the road just as they did last season, when they stumbled to an 11-22 mark. A veteran Jazz frontline (Jefferson, Millsap, Marvin Williams) should be better on the defensive end. And an NBA team shouldn't lose a game by virtue of a 6-of-12 display from the charity stripe. One could find better on a playground at recess. GRADE: C-
Rhett Wilkinson studies interesting stuff at Utah State University and is the co-founder of Aggie BluePrint, USU's first student magazine. Previously an intern for the Deseret News, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @wilklogan