the jazz is blown out in New Orleans, a truly remarkable city

Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz’s 124-90 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans from Salt Lake Tribune Jazz Beat writer Andy Larsen.

1. A quick thought about New Orleans

New Orleans is unlike any other major city in America. The early French influence changes everything about how the city was built: the buildings are extremely European, with an emphasis on balconies, outdoor seating and beautiful architectural flourishes. Influenced largely by the city’s unique relationship with the encroaching Gulf of Mexico to the south and the vast Mississippi River winding through its streets, the food will shock you: jambalaya, gumbo, muffalettas, things New Orleans were either just making up or made popular. It opens your eyes to what food can be.

Perhaps it’s these two things that bring people together and give New Orleans its incredible community spirit: It really feels like everyone has everyone’s back. I reckon there are more laughs per capita in New Orleans than anywhere else in America. People live for each other, they live to enjoy each other, and it shows.

However, my favorite aspect of the city is the music. Obviously, New Orleans is the birthplace of lowercase jazz, perhaps because the same people who sat around the city’s beautiful buildings and ate their delicious food needed something to hear while they did so. But it’s not just jazz: big bands are guaranteed to have saxophones and trumpets, play rock’n’roll plus brass and soul. Just like food, the creativity shocks you—it’s not only novel, it’s substantial. Out of the ordinary.

Last night we went to Bamboula’s on Frenchman Street. There we saw two bands: one led by frontman Marty Peters and his backing band Party Meters, and another called Delta Funk. The Marty Peters and his Spoonerism friends were great, but Delta Funk blew my socks off.

At some point someone had a birthday, but instead of just playing Happy Birthday or the Beatles’ birthday song or whatever, they flew through about six different well-known surfer songs, changing lyrics to birthday-related ones and juggling different keys and tempos at such a dizzying speed that their playing almost sent me into the stratosphere, so delighted was the sheer creativity and excellence of what they delivered. And in a birthday song!

This is a 3.5 star rated Yelp bar that you can also rent by sending the manager a Facebook message. When I went to Bamboula’s last night I can only imagine the quality of the places the jazz capital letters went to on a night in New Orleans and the mind blowing bands they heard.

Yes, drinks were drunk; no, they were not at the expense of the Tribune. Yes, everyone made it back to their hotels safely, and everyone made it to the team’s shootaround the next morning and, of course, to the game that night. But also — there could have been a hangover of both the toxic liquid variety and the emotional variety.

I don’t blame the city of New Orleans for the loss of jazz. But I’m not not also blame New Orleans.

2. Attacking the teeth of a defense

The Pelicans are playing extremely big these days: CJ McCollum is short, but in their starting line-up the four of Herb Jones, Brandon Ingram, Jaxson Hayes and Jonas Valanciunas are all much taller than typical players in their positions. Additionally, the pelicans helped jazz ballhandlers a lot by sticking their length right into the jazz’s grill and forcing them to handle it.

The way to deal with this is fast passing: use their aggression and find the guy unguarded. That’s what the Quin Snyder Jazz are usually very good at – no team in the league is as well trained at making split-second decisions as the Jazz, period.

But instead, the Jazz just drove into the teeth of the defence, which is basically just a really good way to strip the ball.

So no, Jordan Clarkson, it’s not that. Drive safely, but be aware of where help might be coming from and be ready to take advantage of it.

Bojan Bogdanovic was also a frequent change tonight.

Both guys can have tunnel vision at times, although we should also note that Clarkson had the team’s highest assist total at a whopping four. But in the end, both must recognize when perimeter help is coming and then deal with it when it comes.

Honestly, even when the Jazz did that tonight, the players receiving the passes didn’t shoot their open shots. Maybe that wouldn’t have worked either, but pick six runouts were probably less likely to occur on the other end anyway.

3. What does Rudy Gay get for Jazz?

Pretty much everyone was terrible tonight – maybe with the exception of Hassan Whiteside, who finished some pretty easy dunks and layups. But I’m also pretty confident about the level that jazz will reach through the rest of the rotation: I basically know what I’m getting from Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic and Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert and so on.

I’m not entirely sure what value I’m getting from Rudy Gay. Right now he’s just playing the Georges Niang role as the team’s reserve four, but he’s a less good shot than Niang and probably plays a little less hard. Gay is a better rebounder and just a more supple athlete even when playing like that, so he’s probably evening it out compared to Niang.

But is it? Jazz acquired Gay to be more influential with the idea that the veteran could be a jack of all trades that Jazz could pull out and use in a variety of situations and roles. And right now, he’s getting less playing time than Daniel House, a 10-day guy, and Trent Forrest, a two-way guy.

Maybe that’s just because the Jazz is trying to limit its minutes when coming back from heel pain and a non-COVID illness. But his play only during the niang minutes doesn’t exactly scream out that he’s an underutilized resource. And heck, maybe that’s because he’s a 15-year veteran playing the regular season in third gear, but maybe it’s because he’s 35 and has just slacked off a bit as a player.

With 20 games left I’d like to see more of him later in the season to see if he can play at a higher level in the key games. I really don’t know if he can, but maybe he could, and I think it’s worth finding out. the jazz is blown out in New Orleans, a truly remarkable city

Jessica MacLeish

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