For the Jazz, starting the New Year off right won’t be easy.

Players and coaches acknowledged this after Wednesday morning’s shootaround, ahead of the 7 p.m. matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans.

For one thing, the element of surprise is gone. Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell notched a career-high 41 points in a December win over New Orleans at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The Jazz are aware New Orleans will have Mitchell at the top of their scouting report.

“That was a different set of circumstance,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “Anthony Davis went down earlier in that game, and it changed them some defensively, and Donovan got hot. So, we’re expecting them to play him differently and to give him some different coverages.”


When • Wednesday, 7 p.m.


It’s a big game for both teams. The Jazz and the Pelicans could be fighting for the final playoff berth once the season progresses into March and April. That means, head-to-head will matter in this case. That also means Utah needs a home win against New Orleans, because the final two games in the series are on the road for the Jazz.

That being said, the Jazz are just concerned with finding a way to play well consistently. They played well against the San Antonio Spurs. They played well against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday. But they haven’t been able to string together good performances.

It all means they have work to do, following a brutal December schedule.

“It’s important for us to start the new year off right,” Jazz guard Rodney Hood said. “It was important to end it the right way, and it’s important to play well against a really good and really aggressive New Orleans team.”