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Scott G Winterton, KSL

Utah Jazz tough out 6th straight win, edge Pelicans in controversial finish

By Ryan Miller, KSL.com | Updated - Jan. 6, 2020 at 9:59 p.m. | Posted - Jan. 6, 2020 at 8:40 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell walked off the floor holding up two fingers.

So did Georges Niang. And Rayjon Tucker. And Tony Bradley. And most of the Utah Jazz. It was a clear message: The two-time Defensive Player of the Year conquered again.

Rudy Gobert denied Brandon Ingram at the rim in the final second to preserve a 128-126 win over the New Orleans Pelicans Monday at Smoothie King Arena.

But as Mitchell and the Jazz walked off, there was some confusion — or at least some desperate pleas.

New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry was hounding the referees hoping for a review of the call. And those officials even went to the monitor for some moments, checking something before officially calling the game over.

Did the Pelicans have a legitimate gripe?

Replays showed that Gobert to hit more forearm than ball. But since no call was made, no review could happen.

“I just tried to contest the shot,” Gobert said. “That's pretty much it. I went straight up with my arms. I know I hit the arm with my forearm and we fell with the momentum. He pulled me down and we fell.”

No whistle was blown. So the Jazz went home. Lead official Kane Fitzgerald told a pool reporter the review was to check on a "clock malfunction."

“We thought the game was over,” Snyder said. “And it was. The referees did their job and we did ours.”

The Jazz (24-12) won for the sixth time in a row and are 11-1 in their last 12 games. The win on Monday was well-earned.

In the fourth quarter, Royce O’Neale grimaced as he held his shoulder after being a big collision chasing a loose ball.

Later, Bojan Bogdanovic fell hard on the baseline causing him to grab and flex out his wrist.

The Jazz survived some bumps and bruises — a 35-point night from Ingram, a big run by the Pelicans in the third quarter, and the last-second layup attempt — to finish off their three-game road trip unbeaten.

And maybe no one was tougher than Bogdanovic.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Bogdanovic was fouled as he laid the ball in, causing him to fall into camera row. When he got up he was holding his wrist, clearly in discomfort. He flexed his hand a few times and then went to the free-throw line to take his shot. He made it.

“I fell on my wrist,” Bogdanovic said. “Nothing serious. I’m good.”

He was plenty good on Monday.

Bogdanovic scored 35 points on 11-of-21 shooting to lead Utah. From the 5:28 to 3:30 marks of the fourth quarter, he scored 10 straight for the Jazz.

“We were talking about Bojan’s shooting slump earlier right?” Snyder quipped. “I think that’s what makes him special.”

Bogdanovic had struggled of late, shooting 40% or lower in the six games leading into Monday.

“He’s back,” Mitchell said.

And he arrived at the perfect time.

Mitchell didn’t have his best offensive night, scoring just 19 points on 18 shots and Gobert was held to 9 points. But Bogdanovic’s big night, Joe Ingles finishing with 22 points and six assists and Jordan Clarkson scoring 16 gave the Jazz enough offense on a night they desperately needed a lot of offense.

Utah’s defense didn’t have its best night — and that’s putting it lightly. New Orleans never scored under 28 points in a quarter as the Pelicans were able to penetrate into the paint nearly all game. The Jazz were at the end of a weeklong trip against a team that had been playing better of late.

“They know who they are; they have an identity and they are really tough to guard,” Snyder said. “Our ability to score points tonight put us in a position and then Rudy made a great play.”

Yes, even on one of its poorest nights, Utah's defense still sealed the win.

Up by two with 30 seconds to go, the Jazz forced JJ Reddick into a contested fadeaway jumper as he went for a quick 2-for-1. And then, after Utah missed a chance to clinch the win on the offensive end, Gobert made the game-winning (and controversial) play at the end.

“To be able to persevere is what good teams do,” Mitchell said. “And we were able to do that.”

Ryan Miller

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