By KAREEM COPELAND
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) RUDY GOBERT believes he should have been an All-Star and nights like Monday give him the opportunity to prove his case. The 7-foot-1 Frenchman shined while helping the Utah Jazz keep the All-Star duo of ANTHONY DAVIS and DeMarcus Cousins in relative check.
GORDON HAYWARD scored 23 points and the Jazz led from start to finish in an 88-83 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. Gobert posted his 44th double-double of the season with 15 points, 15 rebounds and two blocked shots.
“We know those guys are very aggressive and take a lot of shots inside and outside the paint,” Gobert said. “So, we had to, as a team, try to disrupt them and did a great job.
“Those guys played in the All-Star Game and stuff like that. It’s always fun to play those guys. … They’re great players. I wasn’t an All-Star, so I’m not as great. I feed off everything.”
The Jazz pushed their win streak to three games despite a choppy performance on both ends.
The Jazz led 43-34 at halftime after leading by 18 following a dominant first quarter. Utah had a 20-6 run in which eight players scored.
The Pelicans shot a season-low 35.7 percent. Davis had 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Cousins added 15 points.
“(Gobert) is just competitive,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “He’s was able to make some plays at the end of the game … important plays.
“He’s not afraid of the moment. He’s not going to shy away from anything. His competitiveness and his gusto. His verve. Whatever you want to call it, he’s got it.”
The Pelicans struggled on both ends of the floor throughout the night, but a 12-2 second-quarter run cut the lead down to single digits. The Jazz shot 55.0 percent in the first quarter, but New Orleans picked up the intensity in the second and held Utah to 6-for-22 shooting.
“To hold a team to 88 points, you expect to have an opportunity to win the game,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “Offensively, we were inept and when you do that it’s hard to win.”
Both teams seemed weary on the second night of back-to-backs and jump shots weren’t falling. New Orleans chipped away and got within three points midway through the fourth quarter, but clutch 3-pointers from ALEC BURKS, Hayward and JOE INGLES proved too much to overcome.
“I don’t know the reason, we’re just not making shots,” Davis said. “Guys are in the gym every day practicing those shots and making those shots. … We just got to knock them down.”
Pelicans: Signed Jordan Crawford to a 10-day contract Monday and he scored 19 in his first NBA appearance since April 16, 2014. … JRUE HOLIDAY was held to four points after averaging 20.1 over the previous 19 games.
Jazz: JOE JOHNSON sat out with a strained left groin. … GEORGE HILL sat out to rest a sore left great toe. …SHELVIN MACK did not play due to a left ankle sprain. … Hayward played his 500th regular-season game.
PLAYING IT SAFE
Jazz guard RODNEY HOOD didn’t start and played just 20 minutes as Snyder was careful with his minutes on the second night of a back-to-back. Hood has missed 14 games with knee issues and Snyder said they need him healthy down the stretch.
The Pelicans entered the night 2-4 since acquiring Cousins in an All-Star break trade. Gentry said it will take time for Cousins, Davis and the rest of the team to mesh.
“The reality of it is, you can look at Miami when LeBron when there,” Gentry said. “You can look at Cleveland when he went back. It just takes a while for it to work.
“It’s not anything that is going to happen overnight.”
Pelicans: New Orleans hosts DEMAR DEROZAN and the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.
Jazz: Utah travels to face MVP candidate JAMES HARDEN and the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.