New Orleans • Time and time again, Donovan Mitchell would come down the floor and do something absolutely incredible. Then, Brandon Ingram would match.
That was the theme of Thurday’s game between Mitchell and Ingram — whoops, the Utah Jazz and the New Orleans Pelicans. And while Mitchell was incredible, scoring 46, Ingram was just a bit better, scoring 49 and leading an overtime run to get the Pelicans a 138-132 win over the Jazz.
The loss snapped a 10-game winning streak for the Jazz while giving the Pelicans their ninth win of their last 12, as they try to fight for a playoff spot at the bottom of the West.
It was an ugly first half for the Jazz, one they were lucky to survive by going into halftime with only a seven-point deficit. The Jazz seemed allergic to ball movement, stymied by the Pelicans’ switching defense into playing isolation, which didn’t work. Meanwhile, Ingram’s drives repeatedly sent him easily past Royce O’Neale, and while Rudy Gobert tried to challenge everything, he couldn’t.
Second-half action was led by a superstar battle between the two young scorers, the Jazz’s third-year guard from Louisville against the fourth-year Duke product. Mitchell would seemingly get stuck in a corner, then somehow escape by pulling back with a slick crossover and nearly always hitting the 3. Meanwhile, Ingram’s three-level scoring — at the rim, at mid-range, and from 3 — couldn’t be stopped by Utah on the other end. O’Neale gave it his best effort, but he had little effect.
“The way he’s gotten better and worked on his craft, sooner or later he was going to have a game like this,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “He took good shots, and when he had to, found (Derrick Favors) under the basket for easy dunks.”
And then at the end, controversy erupted. Ingram seemed to have won the game with 0.2 seconds left with a beautiful mid-range pull-up over O’Neale, and the Smoothie King Center crowd went wild. But the officiating crew called a foul on the ensuing inbounds play, ruling that Jaxson Hayes had wrapped Gobert up, preventing the game-winning tip opportunity. Gobert had a chance to win the game, but made just 1 of 2 free throws, sending it to overtime.
In OT, the Jazz got out to a quick five-point advantage, thanks to big outside shots from Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic. The Pelicans fought back, though. Ingram got to the line, and at one point, Gobert was seemingly fouled at one end, then called for an apparent non-foul on the other. It was another crucial call that was Gobert’s sixth, fouling him out of the game. Jazz coach Quin Snyder challenged, but the play was ruled a foul anyway.
“It wasn’t a foul. I’m just gonna be straight up. It’s fine, everyone makes mistakes,” Gobert said. “I don’t understand why if they can review it and see that it’s not a foul, why they didn’t overturn it.”
Everyone remembered, too, how the Jazz’s last game against New Orleans 10 days ago ended: with a Gobert foul on Ingram that wasn’t whistled. Of course, the previous plays shouldn’t make a difference in an official’s psyche, but they’re human too.
Regardless, the sequence came as a key part of a Pelicans 11-0 run that turned the tide. The Pelicans went repeatedly to the foul line late, while the Jazz couldn’t get either their outside shots or their layups to go.
“Our guys have been terrific in the clutch, but getting some stops has to go with it,” Snyder said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get some key stops and a couple key defensive rebounds.”
The final numbers are eye-popping. We’ve already mentioned Ingram’s 49 points and Mitchell’s 46, but they did it efficiently, too — on 25 and 34 field goals, respectively. Bogdanovic scored 26, and Gobert had 17 points and 14 rebounds. Meanwhile, Favors was the beneficiary of some excellent inside passes, finishing with 21 points on 12 shots of his own. Once again, the Jazz struggled to keep up with the Pellies’ high pace, losing the fast-break battle 23-9.
It was a disappointing loss, but not a catastrophic one from a Jazz point of view.
“We’re doing some good things. There are going to be games where you don’t make enough plays to win,” Snyder said. “We’ve been making them on both ends, but tonight there was just a shot here and there that didn’t (go our way). But we competed.”