NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Rodney Hood put to rest any concerns about his health when used a hesitation dribble to blow past Pelicans forward Nikola Mirotic and bolted down the lane for a soaring one-handed dunk.
Hood scored 30 points in his second game back from a bruised left shin and the surging Utah Jazz extended their winning streak to six with a 133-109 victory over New Orleans on Monday night.
”Good shooting and winning cures a lot of things, so I just want to keep doing that,” said Hood, who was supposed to remain on minute restrictions after playing only 16 minutes in his return Saturday from a six-game absence.
Instead, coach Quin Snyder left Hood on the court for more than 27 minutes, and he made 12 of 14 shots, which delighted a strong contingent of Hood’s family and friends who’d made the drive from his native Meridian, Mississippi.
”I told (Snyder) I’d let him know if my leg started to hurt,” Hood said. ”It gave me a little bit of problems, but for the most part I was fine.”
”The ball just found me,” Hood added. ”I started feeling it.”
Ricky Rubio had 20 points and 11 assists, and Rudy Gobert added 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Jazz, who made 14 of 21 3-point attempts and shot 58.4 percent (52 of 89) overall in their highest-scoring game this season.
”We’re just playing good basketball. There’s no secret to it,” Snyder said. ”We haven’t sit here and beat our chests like we’ve done anything. We haven’t. We’ve just won a couple games.”
Jrue Holiday scored 28 points, and Anthony Davis had 15 points and 11 rebounds for New Orleans, which has lost four of five since losing All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to a season-ending left Achilles tear on Jan. 26.
Afterward, Davis declined to criticize his team’s defensive effort and sounded resigned to the fact that the Jazz are on a roll and shooting well.
”We were in our coverages, what the coaches told us to be in and they shot the hell out of the ball,” Davis said. ”There was nothing you could really do about it. All those guys were making 3s. … If they beat you doing that, then so be it.”
The Jazz led by double digits most of the way and led by as many as 20 when Rubio’s driving layup made it 116-96 in the middle of the fourth quarter.
”Rubio is playing at a real, real high level right now,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. ”Because of that, they’re a really difficult team to guard.”
Utah had six players score more than 10, including Derrick Favors with 19, Joe Ingles 18 and Royce O’Neale with 13.
Jazz: G Donovan Mitchell, who was listed as questionable with an illness, started just hours after being named a replacement for Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon in this month’s All-Star dunk contest. ”He’s deserving and I’m sure he’ll enjoy it,” Snyder said. Mitchell scored his only points of the game on a one-handed alley-oop dunk in the third quarter. He played 19 minutes.
Pelicans: Rajon Rondo scored 18 points, all in the first half. Ian Clark and E’Twaun Moore each scored 14. … C Emeka Okafor, signed Saturday to a 10-day contract, made his Pelicans debut and played in the NBA for the first time since 2013 when he checked in late in the first quarter. He had three points and two rebounds in nine minutes. … Mirotic was making his home debut and first start in his second game with New Orleans since being traded by Chicago. He played 33 minutes but scored just five points.
SETTING THE TONE
Utah took its first double-digit lead less than four minutes into the game and was only briefly threatened after that. The Jazz led by 16 when O’Neale and Rubio hit back-to-back 3s to make it 52-36 early in the second quarter.
The Jazz hit 10 of 11 3-point shots in the half, when they shot 61.4 percent overall (27 of 44).
New Orleans gave up 70 first-half points, but got back into the game by halftime with a 41-point second quarter. Rondo hit seven of his first 10 shots, including four of five 3s.
His fourth 3 made it 67-64, but Hood responded with a double-pump 3 as the half ended.
Jazz: Visit Memphis on Wednesday night.
Pelicans: Host Indiana on Wednesday night.
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