The New Orleans Pelicans’ Willy Hernangomez shoots over the Utah Jazz’s Juancho Hernangomez during their game Friday, March 4, 2022 in New Orleans. Associated Press/New Orleans Pelicans photo by Layne Murdoch, Jr.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Brandon Ingram scored 29 points and C.J. McCollum added 24 to power the New Orleans Pelicans to a 124-90 victory Friday night over the Utah Jazz.
In winning their fourth consecutive game since the All-Star break, the Pelicans led by as many as 37 points, 86-49, with 4:08 left in the third quarter. The 37-point deficit was the largest this season for the Jazz, who had entered the game winning nine of their last 10.
The Pelicans limited the NBA’s highest-scoring team to 35.2% shooting and held Donovan Mitchell in check. Mitchell averaged 32.6 points in his previous five games, but he was held to a team-high 14 points on 5-of-18 shooting. Hassan Whiteside had 13 points and 12 rebounds for Utah.
Pelicans coach Willie Green said Mitchell stopped him in the hallway after the game to marvel at the defense provided against him by rookie Herb Jones, the second-round pick from Alabama who played in the rookie game during All-Star weekend.
“He talked about Herb being one of the few rookies he has to plan for,” Green said. “His instincts are incredible. Even when he doesn’t score the ball, he makes the right plays on offense. We’re extremely blessed to have him on our team.”
While Mitchell said the Jazz’s effort might be understandable as being an off night in an 82-game marathon, he praised Jones for making him uncomfortable.
“Herb Jones is solid, and he deserves his flowers,” Mitchell said.
“He doesn’t look like a rookie,” said New Orleans reserve center Willy Hernangomez, who had 13 points and eight rebounds. “Once he gets to know more players, he’s going to be a beast. I think Herb should be in the conversation for rookie of the year.”
While Jones scored only two points, he had three steals and used his long wingspan to block a 3-point attempt by Mitchell.
“It’s super cool to gain respect from that level of a player,” Jones said of Mitchell. “He’s super-skilled and the league knows it. For him to say that about me, it’s fun. I love to compete. I expect opposing players to bring their best, just like i’m going to bring mine every night.”
“He’s like a veteran – he knows the game,” Ingram said of Jones. “When you get beat, you know Herb’s going to be there just in the right spot. He’s going to be in this league for a long, long time, and I’m happy to be his teammate.”
The Pelicans used runs of 10-0 and 9-0 to build a 35-17 first-quarter lead. The second spurt came on three consecutive 3-pointers, two by reserve forward Tony Snell from each corner. Ingram led the Pelicans with 11 first-quarter points, and Snell had eight in four minutes.
The Jazz are the one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the NBA, but they opened 2-of-14 from long range as the Pelicans extended their lead to 48-22 midway through the second quarter, with Naji Marshall beating the Jazz downcourt for three consecutive layups.
By the time Jose Alvarado stripped Bojan Bogdanovic at the top of the key and coasted in for a layup, the Pelicans led 58-28 with 4:18 left in the half.
“They played at a high level,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “Out of 82, there are going to be nights like this. That doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t look at a game and do some things better. … It’s us being able to understand we need to pass the ball four or five times – move it and move it again. I thought we held it.”
The Jazz trailed 65-38 in the half on 14-of-42 shooting (33%), including 4-of-20 from long range. The Pelicans shot 54.3% on 25-of-46 shooting and had 16 assists in the half.
The Jazz, averaging just 14.2 turnovers a game, committed 12 in the first half, leading to a 17-4 New Orleans advantage off turnovers.
Jazz: Coach Quin Snyder, who played for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski from 1985-89 and coached with him from 1993-99, said he was sorry he could not attend Krzyzewski’s last regular-season game on Saturday against North Carolina. “He’s been an anchor for so many people and so many players who have been there,” Snyder said. “We’ve been really lucky to have him to both rely on and rally around, and he’s just given so much to everybody, most of all his players.” … Assistant coach Dell Demps, former general manager of the Pelicans, tore his patellar tendon while working out with players on the court before the game.
Pelicans: In the last four games, the Pelicans have led by at least 30 points. … The Pelicans have won their last four games by an average of 26.8 ppg. … New Orleans was the NBA’s best defensive team since the All-Star break, limiting opponents, holding its three opponents to 95.5 ppg. … 6-foot-11 F Jaxson Hayes has helped pick up the defense. “I feel like we’ve done a great job as a team defensively. Everyone is picking up everyone’s slack. If somebody gets beat, somebody is there. Our team defense as a whole has gotten really good.”
Jazz: at Oklahoma City on Sunday.
Pelicans: at Denver on Sunday.