Pels vs. The Jazz, 1/23
With three days off since a defeating game against the Suns, the Pelicans proved to have practiced on their form, specifically shooting, and returned to the floor as an improved team.
Although the first quarter was a close battle, the Pelicans broke out in the second and maintained their aggression and confidence offensively. At the beginning of the second quarter, New Orleans initiated a 19-3 run, pushing their advantage to 50-33 with 8:32 remaining in the first half. Continuing their momentum into the third quarter, New Orleans went on an 18-4 run, further extending their lead to 109-87 with 2:12 left in the third frame.
A Record Setting Night
With a final score of 124-153, the Pelicans put up a franchise high number of points. The Pelicans' offense was nothing short of impressive as they shot nearly 58% and sank 23 three-pointers—only two shots shy of the franchise record they shattered last week.
The leading scorer of the night was none other than CJ McCollum, who had tied his season high of 33. Further, he knocked down nine out of his 13 attempted threes, shooting from behind the arc at an impressive 69.2%.
"In the last game, I didn't like the way I shot personally, 1 for 7 from three, so I made sure I put some work in and really focused on some stuff to come out and play better," said McCollum on his mentality for the night.
On the offensive performance, Coach Green said, "It was just an incredible performance by the guys in that locker room, sharing the basketball, touching and kicking out for threes, rebounding the ball, and I continue to say it: it goes back to our defense. When we can get stops, rebound, and we play in the open floor. It's some of our best basketball, it was a really fun game to be a part of."
When looking at the team's offensive strengths during the game, it's clear that confidence draws out trust among the guys, as they made smart passes leading to smart shots. The team had a total of 41 assists for the night, setting yet another franchise record.
Zion Williamson also set a career high for himself with 11 assists, part of his sixth double-double of the season.
"Zion played with great pace tonight. He rebounded the ball. He got into the paint. He made great plays for everybody else. He made great plays for himself. It was an easy, fun, flowing game tonight. We got up a lot of threes in transition. We finally got enough stops to extend our lead," said McCollum regarding Williamson's impact on the game.
Another standout star of the night was Herb Jones, known as a star defender. However, although his defensive skills were great, we saw a near-perfect offensive performance from Jones. He put up 22 points, with an 89% accuracy rate inside the paint and 100% from behind the arc, making four out of four three-point shots.
On his improved offensive ability, Jones said, "I'm just showing up and putting my work in, that's kind of all I can credit it to. I don't think I'm doing anything differently. Just trusting in my work and taking my shots with confidence."
Jones explained that what he saw draw these numbers from his team was confidence. "We were just sharing the ball, trusting each other, and taking a lot of shots with confidence, and making our threes with confidence," he said.
With that win, the Pelicans ended the 23-24 season series with the Utah Jazz 2-2 and 26-18 overall, sitting at fifth place in the West. The Pelicans' next three games present an uphill challenge as they will face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday at home, then hit the road to play the top two teams in the East: the Celtics and the Bucks.