SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz got off to a tough start. Then Donovan Mitchell and company pushed their way right past the New Orleans Pelicans.
Mitchell scored a season-high 36 points, and the Jazz rallied to beat the Pelicans 129-118 on Thursday night for their seventh straight win.
“Every chance I got, just kept putting pressure on the defense and getting to the basket," Mitchell said. "I was able to get 13 quick and they focus on me so now the guys are open. Then guys are hitting shots, now they’re not worried about me anymore — just a mind game in the sense.”
Mitchell went 6 for 8 from 3-point range in another efficient performance.
“He’s picking his spots and he’s taking what the defense gives him," Utah coach Quin Snyder said. "Early in the game, he really attacked the rim, was able to get in the paint ... then as the game progressed the defense dropped back.”
Utah shot 50% (44 for 88) from the field it made 50.6% of its shots during a 118-102 victory over New Orleans on Tuesday night.
Mike Conley scored 20 points and Jordan Clarkson had 19 for Utah, which has the longest active win streak in the NBA.
“There were games earlier in the season like Minnesota where we came out flat and if teams hit us first, we didn’t have a push-back like we do now,” Mitchell said.
Zion Williamson scored 27 points and Brandon Ingram had 23 but the Pelicans couldn’t sustain the momentum of an almost perfect first quarter and a half.
“Our pace offensively slowed down," coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We didn’t play with much pace or force on the offensive end. We quit making shots. And defensively we really weren’t good the entire game.”
Still, New Orleans led for a bit early in the second half. Eric Bledsoe made a jumper to make it 78-75 Pelicans right before the Jazz took over.
Joe Ingles made a fast-break layup on a feed from Mitchell, capping a 21-2 run that lifted Utah to a 96-80 lead with 4:27 to play in the third quarter.
“Our ability to turn up our energy level a couple notches, especially defensively, is making the difference," Conley said. “We really get after guys and we try to get in passing lanes and we try to just be a little bit more aggressive.”
Frustration boiled over for the Pelicans. Coach Stan Van Gundy got a technical and then lost a challenge to overturn a foul. Minutes later, Steven Adams leapt off the bench to argue a call and earned a technical, and Van Gundy kept arguing and was ejected with 2:23 remaining in the period.
Williamson’s leaner got the Pelicans within 100-94 early in the fourth quarter, but the Jazz used their precision passing and shooting to rebuild a comfortable margin.
Ingram made all six of his shots, including four 3s, as the Pelicans tallied 43 points in the first quarter. It was the second-highest total for the first quarter in franchise history.
The Pelicans led by as many as 16 before the Jazz grabbed a 70-69 edge at halftime. Both Mitchell (21 points) and Ingram (20 points) posted season highs for a first half.
Pelicans: Williamson made his first 3-pointer of the season in the first period as part of the team’s season-best eight 3s in a quarter. ... Both teams had 27 assists, and the Pelicans shot 49.4% (42 for 85).
Jazz: C Rudy Gobert had 12 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. It marked his seventh game this season with at least four blocks. ... Ingles had a season-high nine assists. ... Utah went 24 for 25 at the line.
The Pelicans play their final game of a seven-game road trip against Minnesota on Saturday night.
The Jazz host Golden State on Sunday night.