SALT LAKE CITY — Rookie Keyonte George scored a season-high 19 points to lead the Utah Jazz to a 114-112 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night and a sweep of their two-game series.
Jordan Clarkson chipped in 16 points and a season-high 10 assists for the Jazz. Walker Kessler added 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Simone Fontecchio scored 14 points.
Utah beat New Orleans for the fifth straight time and second time in three days after making 17 3-pointers, including six in the fourth quarter. The Jazz moved the ball well, finishing with 31 assists on 37 baskets.
“It was just the fact of us moving the ball instead of trying to make plays for each other,” Clarkson said. “Sometimes the play is just swinging it. Sometimes that gives us a chance to get to the next action. The next guy makes the play for someone else. That’s been the biggest thing for us and when everybody’s touching the ball, it feels good.”
Zion Williamson scored 26 points for New Orleans, which lost despite shooting 50% from the field. Williamson, who did not play in the Pelicans’ 105-100 loss on Saturday, shot 9 of 16 from the field and added seven assists.
Brandon Ingram chipped in 25 points. Jonas Valanciunas tallied 14 points and 13 rebounds. Naji Marshall added 14 points and nine boards off the bench.
New Orleans outscored Utah 68-38 in the paint but the Jazz had a 48-43 edge on the glass and a 20-9 advantage in second-chance points.
“I thought we did enough to win the game, but they made more plays and got those 50-50 balls,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said.
Utah opened the fourth quarter on a 10-3 run fueled by a pair of 3-pointers from Ochai Agbaji and took a 98-91 lead. The Pelicans tied it at 103 on back-to-back baskets from Ingram midway through the quarter. Clarkson countered with consecutive baskets on the other end to put the Jazz back in front for good.
George’s pullup 3 gave Utah a 114-107 lead with 2:42 left. The Pelicans cut the deficit to two on a 3-pointer from Herbert Jones with 1:14 remaining but missed all three of their field goal attempts in the final minute.
“We got some good looks,” Williamson said. “We definitely got the looks we wanted, some shots just didn’t fall. That happens sometimes.”
Utah never trailed in the first half after knocking down six 3-pointers during the first quarter and building a 32-22 lead.
New Orleans erased the deficit late in the second quarter behind an 11-3 run. Marshall made three baskets over a two-minute stretch to provide the initial spark. Williamson threw down a second-chance dunk to punctuate the spurt and tie it at 53.
The Pelicans finally took their first lead at 59-57 on a putback dunk from Valanciunas a minute into the third quarter.
Fontecchio and Omer Yurtseven made their second consecutive start for Utah with Lauri Markkanen sidelined with a hamstring injury. Yurtseven had a team-high 10 rebounds while Fontecchio had some key defensive stops late.
Utah is now 2-0 after inserting the duo into the starting lineup in Markkanen’s absence. Before the change was made, both players averaged less than 15 minutes per contest in limited roles.
“My intent was not to send a message,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “My intent was to put people on the floor that I felt like were going to give us the best chance to win. We’ve seen enough play this year to know how we played early in the year. It wasn’t meant to punish anybody. It wasn’t meant to prove a point.”
Pelicans: Host Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Jazz: Visit Memphis on Wednesday.
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