The Utah Jazz have the best record in the NBA.
They have lost consecutive games just once this season.
They’ll try to continue rolling when they visit the erratic New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night.
The Jazz avoided a potential second consecutive loss when they beat the Magic 124-109 on Saturday in Orlando.
Utah got off to a sluggish start as it completed a back-to-back, having lost at Miami 124-116 the night before.
“We’re not allowed to be tired,” said coach Quin Snyder, whose team is now 5-1 on the back end of games on consecutive days.
Donovan Mitchell was scoreless in the first quarter but scored 15 of his 31 points in the third quarter as the Jazz pulled away from a four-point halftime lead. Utah scored 70 points in the second half.
“The way we started the game we weren’t pushing the ball as much as we wanted to, and we didn’t get some of the catch-and-shoot threes,” Snyder said. “I think we just committed to that.
“I felt like the ball really started to get up the court quickly and it was moving. And when the ball’s moving, that’s when we’re a good team.”
Joe Ingles had 17 points and seven assists while starting in place of point guard Mike Conley, who didn’t play because of right hamstring injury management. Conley might be available against New Orleans, but if he’s not Utah has confidence in Ingles; The Jazz are 7-0 when he fills in for Conley.
“I try to play the same game, but I realize I’m going to have the ball more in certain situations,” Ingles said. “I’m just making sure I’m getting guys involved and getting them in the right spots.”
Utah is off to its best start in franchise history and has won 23 of its last 26 games.
Two of those victories came at home against New Orleans — 118-102 on Jan. 19 and 129-118 on Jan. 21.
Brandon Ingram scored 29 points and Zion Williamson had 23 points and 14 rebounds as the Pelicans lost to the Spurs 117-114 on Saturday in San Antonio.
New Orleans lost for the seventh time in 10 games while facing a team that was missing five players for a sixth consecutive game because of COVID-19 protocols.
The Pelicans, who lost at Milwaukee 129-125 on Thursday, have struggled defensively most of the season, but they held the Spurs to 50 second-half points after allowing 67 in the first half.
But their offense stagnated down the stretch and they made just nine 3-pointers (in 32 attempts) for the game.
“We were a little bit better (defensively) down the stretch, but we couldn’t make shots and our defense isn’t good enough over the course of the game to win for us,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We are totally dependent on our offense to win games and you’re not going to go far with that.”
Williamson said he wasn’t discouraged by the mounting losses.
“I’ll say this,” Williamson said. “I feel like we’re almost there. There’s some small things we have to figure out. But we’re almost there. They hit shots and we didn’t hit shots. Nights like that are frustrating, but if we figure those small things out, we’ll be there.”
–Field Level Media