Johnson leads Jazz to rout of Pelicans

(TSX / STATS) -- NEW ORLEANS -- Although the Jazz have won 11 of their past 14 games, Utah coach Quin Snyder has spent the last several weeks trying to tamp down praise for his team's consistently high-level performances.

Snyder did it again Wednesday night after the Jazz routed the New Orleans Pelicans 127-94 at the Smoothie King Center, but his words are starting to sound like coach-speak.

The Jazz (34-19) scored at least 120 points for the second game in a row -- the first time they have done that since 2011 -- and won their fourth consecutive game. The fact that both victories came on the road -- they beat the Atlanta Hawks 120-95 on Monday night -- makes it even better.

"No superlatives defensively -- we're getting better, but I don't think we're a great team by any means, although we had good moments tonight," Snyder said after the Jazz held the Pelicans to 11-of-38 shooting from the field (28.9 percent) and 41 points in the second half. "Offensively, it's the same thing. We're just sharing the ball. Guys are spaced well and being unselfish."

Forward Joe Johnson came off the Jazz bench to score 27 points and sink a season-high six 3-pointers, pacing seven Utah players in double figures. The Jazz led by 39 points in the fourth quarter and were able to give their starters a few extra minutes of rest in advance of a Thursday night road game against the Dallas Mavericks.

"I'm getting there, I think we're getting there as a team," said Johnson, who was two points shy of matching his season high. "For me, it's just about reads on the offensive end and just playing out the whole play, and tonight just being the recipient of great ball movement, us penetrating and kicking out for threes, and I had a couple of them."

Johnson made his first four attempts from long range and finished 6 of 8 from behind the arc. The Jazz improved their road record to 15-10.

"One of the best things about him is that he's really taking good shots and trying to make the right play," Snyder said of Johnson, who is shooting 41.1 percent from 3-point range. "For a guy whose nickname is 'Iso Joe,' he sure is a good passer. He's been, on a lot of nights, the guy who's facilitated. It's good to see the ball coming back to him, and usually when the ball moves that way, players will make shots, and that's what he did tonight."

Utah did a masterful defensive job against Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, who missed 8 of 12 shots and had trouble going to the basket against 7-foot-1 center Rudy Gobert. Davis finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, but the Pelicans (20-33) were outscored 65-41 in the second half.

"We got him the ball, but they've got long guys," New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said. "We like to see him with more than 12 shots, but they do a good job of taking things away from you. They're the No. 1 defensive team in the league, and you can see why.

"They just beat us in every phase of the game. Their execution was flawless. Defensively, they made it tough for us to get into any kind of offensive set, and they shot the ball well."

Gentry pointed to the play of Utah guard George Hill, who scored 19 points and had three assists.

"With George Hill in their lineup, they're 19-4," Gentry said. "He's kind of the engine that makes them go. He does a good job of running things and setting it up.

"They're a very good basketball team. I think they've got everything. They've got size, they've got depth, and they can shoot the ball. They've got guys that can dribble-penetrate, create shots, so I think they're very solid."

Pelicans backup center Donatas Motiejunas raved about Utah's ball movement and defense.

"They are the perfect example of how we should play," Motiejunas said. "In this position today, we played like an amateur league team. So, there's nothing else to say. It's just embarrassing."

NOTES: Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry offered his "hearts and prayers" to the tornado victims of New Orleans East. About 250 homes were either destroyed or heavily damaged. "That's something that's very unusual for us in this area right here, but we just want them to know that we're thinking about them, hope that everything's OK and if it's not, we hope that it gets taken care of as soon as it possibly can," he said. ... Pelicans G Tyreke Evans (sprained left ankle) missed his second consecutive game. ... Utah coach Quin Snyder said he has always held a great appreciation for Pelicans F Anthony Davis. "I remember sitting -- we were in Biloxi, Mississippi -- and we had a preseason game and we were talking about him and one of the guys at the table said that he's going to be Hall of Famer and you just go like 'Wow!'" Snyder said. "And no one argued against him. (The Pelicans) rave about what kind of person he is, too, and that's the kind of player you want in this league."

Updated February 8, 2017

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