For a team that has a reputation for having one of the toughest arenas for visitors to play in, the Utah Jazz sure are doing a lot of losing at home lately.
And it’s not just to contenders, either.
The Jazz will look to get back on track at home against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.
On Friday night, the Jazz lost to a New Orleans team that had only four victories overall this season and hadn’t won on the road in more than a month. And that stunning defeat, which included a last-second 3-pointer by Devonte’ Graham, came on the heels of a disappointing 119-118 loss to Memphis after a late Jaren Jackson Jr. 3-pointer gave the Grizzlies the win in Salt Lake City on Monday.
After winning their first four home games, the Jazz have now dropped four of six on their own court. Three of those losses are against teams with sub-.500 records.
The disjointed and inconsistent play is causing alarm from a Jazz squad that is considered one of the favorites to contend for an NBA championship.
“I don’t know how many years we’re gonna keep losing in the playoffs and not learning from it. I might be 30. I might be 40,” Jazz center Rudy Gobert said. “We need to put our egos aside and learn.”
Donovan Mitchell, who missed a late drive and scored only 16 points on 6-for-21 shooting Friday, said the blame falls on the players.
“You can’t put it on Quin (Snyder) or the assistants,” Mitchell said. “We’ve just got to (expletive) play better.”
New Orleans deserves credit for playing well enough to add to the woes of the Jazz. The Pelicans responded to each Utah run Friday with one of their own, finishing the first half on a 14-2 run and then scoring the final five points after the Jazz had a 12-2 surge.
Pelicans coach Willie Green said his players have backed down at times in other games when they’ve taken the lead and teams responded with physicality, but that wasn’t the case in this one.
“Tonight it was different,” Green said. “Our guys hung in there. We battled. It started with getting a stop.”
Brandon Ingram had a solid game with 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists, and Jonas Valanciunas collected 11 with 10 rebounds.
What really made a big difference for a team missing its star – Zion Williamson is out with a foot injury – was the play of the bench. New Orleans’ subs combined for 41 points in the 98-97 win.
It was the first time in 15 games this season the Pelicans won a contest when they trailed after three quarters. Utah was up 75-72 heading into the fourth quarter, but New Orleans outscored the Jazz 26-22 in the final 12 minutes.
“This is a tough place to play, and that is a tough team over there,” Green said. “So to come to Utah and get that type of win to start a three-game road trip is huge.”
And hugely frustrating for the hosts.
“We’re not playing like a team that wants to compete for a championship,” Gobert added. “Even the young teams are playing better than us in the clutch.”
–Field Level Media