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- The last time these two teams met, Utah earned its first – and only – win of the season by shooting 70 percent in the fourth quarter. Pelicans coach Monty Williams said there won’t be drastic changes, however. “They were hot,” Williams said. “They made shots. They got in the paint and we put them on the free-throw line. We had some bad possessions and turned the ball over a few times. We just didn’t respect the moment.”
- New Orleans guard Eric Gordon is third in the NBA in steals, averaging 2.4 per game. The number jumps to 3.8 when factoring in steals per 48 minutes. But Williams is unconcerned with steals, saying his focus in more with “on-ball defense.” The Pelicans, however, haven’t been stout defensively outside of steals, allowing 47 percent shooting and 38 percent from 3-point range. Those percentages leave them 27th and 24th in the NBA, respectively.
- The Jazz will get two players back tonight that should give them depth. Guard Trey Burke will play after breaking a finger in the preseason while forward Jeremy Evans is expected back after straining his right rotator cuff. While Evans is in his fourth year in the NBA, Burke is the wild card because tonight will mark his first-career professional game. “We could extend him but you don’t want to overwhelm him just in the first game,” Utah coach Ty Corbin said. “So, you’ve got to be careful with his body and we’re going forward with a game every other day now.”
- Utah guard Gordon Hayward is third in the NBA in first-quarter scoring, averaging 7.3 points in the first 12 minutes. In Utah’s win over New Orleans on Nov. 13, however, Hayward’s damage came in the final quarter. After recording just three first-quarter points, he scored 11 points in both the third and fourth quarters.
– Bradley Handwerger