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Jazz beat Pelicans to put end to worst start in 39 years

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The Canadian Press
11/14/2013 12:04:19 AM
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SALT LAKE CITY -- For the first time this season, basketball was fun for Gordon Hayward and the Utah Jazz.

"Once you see that ball go in, the hoop gets wider and guys are feeding off the energy. It started to become really fun," Hayward said.

Hayward had 27 points and 10 assists and Richard Jefferson added 22 points to help the Utah Jazz claim their first victory of the season, a 111-105 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.

"It's definitely fun when guys are making shots and you're whipping the ball around from side to side. And we were getting some stops too," said Hayward, who scored 22 points in the second half to help the Jazz erase a 16-point deficit to put an end to their worst start in 39 years.

"It's about time!" Hayward said.

Derrick Favours made a key layup with 24 seconds remaining and Jefferson added three free throws in the final minute to clinch the victory.

When Marvin Williams hit a 3-pointer to make it 104-100, Jazz fans leapt to their feet and the Utah reserves bounced around and high-fived like college players in a post-season tournament.

"We finally got that monkey off our back," said Favours, who had 12 points and 12 rebounds. "We knew sooner or later the chemistry would show and people were going to hit shots they normally make."

Enes Kanter had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Jazz, who overcame their worst start to a season since 1974-75, their first year as an expansion franchise in New Orleans.

Anthony Davis had 29 points and 15 rebounds for the Pelicans, who dropped all three games on their Western road swing.

Tyreke Evans, an off-season trade acquisition who has struggled to find his role in the New Orleans scheme, had a season-high 19 points, with almost all of them coming on drives to the basket. Jrue Holiday added 19 points for a Pelicans team that was in control for most the game.

"We had the momentum the whole game," Davis said. "We got to make sure they have no life in them, but we let up and let them back in."

Jason Smith made a layup just after halftime to give New Orleans a 61-45 lead.

As the most experienced player on the team, Jefferson took a strong stand in the ensuing timeout huddle.

"There is no more 'Let's get it next time.' This is unacceptable! This is our time right now," he told his teammates, according to Hayward.

Jefferson became the focal point of a dormant Utah offence in the third quarter and scored nine points in a 13-2 run.

"He led us tonight. We followed his lead. He's been through it all over the years," Hayward said.

The last time Jefferson scored 22 points was more than three years ago as a member of the San Antonio Spurs. But the young Jazz relied on the 12-year veteran, as well as the contributions of fellow "old-timer" Williams, who had 12 points and a key block on Holiday in the final minute.

"The young guys will eventually be great, but this team needs veterans. We need to take over in spots," Jefferson said.

The Pelicans built the lead back to 10 before Hayward tied the game at 70 with his second 3-pointer during a burst of 10 straight points for the Jazz.

Diante Garrett was set to play for Iowa of the D-League but arrived in Salt Lake City on Tuesday and ended up playing 22 minutes for the Jazz, who need a point guard while they await the debut of lottery pick Trey Burke.

Burke is a few weeks from playing while recovering from a fractured finger. The Jazz released Jamaal Tinsley and benched John Lucas III after an 0-for-7 shooting start in the game.

"I was shopping at Wal-Mart two nights ago when I got the call," said Garrett, who had seven points and five assists and was running the point in crunch time. "I haven't even had a practice yet but the coach was just drawing up plays on the white board in timeouts for me."

His sense of relief at getting through his first game in Utah was only exceeded by his teammates getting their first taste of victory.

"It's been tough to sleep at night as a member of the only NBA team without a win. I hate losing and maybe I'll finally sleep well tonight," Hayward said.

NOTES: Two of the worst-shooting teams in the league combined to make more than half their attempts, with the Jazz shooting 51.4 per cent. ... Hayward spent part of the first half with an ice bag on his shin following a collision in the first quarter. ... Greg Stiemsma sat out the game due to a left knee he sprained in Tuesday's loss to the Lakers. ... The final margin was Utah's largest lead of the game.

Jazz Derrick Favors  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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