The New Orleans Pelicans lost a heartbreaker to the Utah Jazz.
The New Orleans Pelicans gave away a big lead and were their own worst enemies in the first bubble game against the Utah Jazz, a 106-104 loss.
This was a tough one. The Pelicans built a 16 point lead in the second quarter and looked like they were going to roll, but Utah kept chipping away and eventually executed better than the Pelicans down the stretch.
Brandon Ingram’s potential game winning three at the buzzer rattled in and out, symbolic of how tantalizingly close the Pels were to winning this one.
There was a lot to like in this game, and we’ll have player grades tomorrow, but some of the Pelicans old enemies came back to haunt them.
Here are three instant takeaways from the first game in the bubble.
Let’s start with the positives.
Zion, Redick and Hart.
Zion Williamson started the game and played roughly the first three minutes of each quarter, ending with 13 points in 15 minutes.
He looked slow at times and was laboring to get up and down the floor at his normal pace. I’m not making excuses for Zion but he looked like a guy who had two days to prepare.
He was still nearly unstoppable offensively, going six for eight for 13 efficient points. He caught an absolutely beautiful alley oop from Lonzo and had a nifty behind the back pass of his own. Some of these new camera angles are amazing:
But Zion watched the end of the game from the bench, which was tough given the Pelicans inability to score down the stretch.
J.J. Redick and Josh Hart were both sparks off the bench, and there is a solid argument that there should have been more of each of them.
The defense ramped up when Hart was on the floor and Redick started to catch fire offensively, finishing the game with 21 points.
Alvin Gentry went way too long with E’Twaun Moore, with Redick looking on from the bench in the fourth quarter. This was a problem that we’ll get into more.