NEW ORLEANS (AP)Utah center Rudy Gobert wasn’t going to allow the Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram to blow by him for a layup at the final horn without getting his 7-foot-1 frame and long arms in the way.
Incredulous players leaped off the Pelicans bench pleading for a foul, suggesting there was no small measure of debate over whether Gobert’s challenge was a legal one.
Gobert’s stop preserved a 128-126 Jazz victory over New Orleans on Monday night that extended Utah’s winning streak to six games.
”I went straight up with my arms. I got the ball with my forearm, and then we both just fell,” Gobert said.
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 35 points and Joe Ingles added 22 for the Jazz, who have won 11 of 12.
”We are playing great basketball lately,” Bogdanovic said.
But the final play of Utah’s last triumph is likely to be noted in the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report from the game, which generally is released the following day.
”I think I got hit but the referee didn’t see it. That’s the reality of it,” said Ingram, whose 35 points were not quite enough to lift the recently resurgent Pelicans to a seventh victory in nine games.
Replays showed Gobert making body-to-body contact with Ingram after chasing the Pelicans forward down the right side of the lane. But Ingram also had his left arm wrapped around Gobert’s torso. And while Gobert appeared to hit Ingram’s shooting wrist as the shot was released, the Utah center’s arm seemed to graze the ball first.
”It was a foul . nothing more, nothing less,” Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball said. ”We should have gotten two free throws.”
Utah coach Quinn Snyder, meanwhile, lauded Gobert for ”a great play.”
”We felt during live play that Rudy played legal defense,” official Kane Fitzgerald, the crew chief for the game, told a pool reporter.
Jazz players celebrated Gobert’s defensive stop and quickly disappeared down the tunnel toward their locker room. Officials briefly went to the scorer’s table to check if there should be any time left and then ruled the game over, eliciting a cascade of boos from the crowd.
”Rudy blocked it. That’s why we ran off the court,” Utah guard Donavan Mitchell said, bringing up another pivotal late-game block by Gobert in a close victory at Chicago two games earlier. ”That’s the second time of this road trip he’s done that. … I knew Rudy was going to meet him at the rim.”
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said he didn’t get an explanation from officials.
”All we did is exactly what we were supposed to do: took the ball, drove it hard to the basket, and then they determined that it wasn’t a foul. End of game,” Gentry said.
Officials also did not grant a timeout that Ball and Gentry appeared to signal for momentarily as Ingram kept his dribble while sprinting more than half the length of the court.
Ball said the plan was to call a timeout, but added that when Ingram is ”going full stride, not many people can stop that.”
Gobert had 19 rebounds and nine points, and Mitchell capped a 19-point night with a driving floater in the lane that broke a 126-all tie with 1:12 left. That wound up being the winning basket as the Pelicans missed their final three shots and Utah its last two.
The game had 18 lead changes and 11 ties.
Utah briefly went up by 11 in the third quarter and the Jazz maintained a slim lead for most of the fourth until Ball, who had 21 points, hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 121 with 3:15 left. Ingles’ free throws and his left-handed alley-oop feed across the lane to Gobert helped Utah take a five-point lead before J.J. Redick’s free throws and Ingram’s 3 tied it at 126.
Redick finished with 23 points for the Pelicans, who were without second-leading scorer Jrue Holiday (19.6 points per game) for the first time this season because of his bruised left elbow.
Jazz: Ingles made four 3s and the Jazz, who came in averaging 12.4 per game, finished with 16. … Bogdanovic hit 11 of 21 shots, including three 3s, and all 10 of his free throws. … Utah improved to 11-2 with the starting lineup of Mitchell, Ingles, Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale and Gobert. … The Jazz improved to 11-9 on the road.
Pelicans: Derrick Favors had 10 rebounds and three blocks, including one on Gobert that led to Ingram’s tying 3 in the final two minutes. … Ingram has scored 30 or more eight times in New Orleans’ first 37 games. … E’Twaun Moore scored 13 points but missed all four 3s he attempted.
While top overall draft choice Zion Williamson has yet to make his debut, the Pelicans’ other two first-round picks – center Jaxson Hayes and guard Nickeill Alexander-Walker – combined for a memorable highlight that caused a frenzy in the stands. Alexander-Walker, selected 17th overall, floated an alley-oop pass well above the rim as he began to drive the lane. Hayes corralled it with his right hand just before it hit about halfway up the backboard and slammed the ball down.
The Pelicans seemed to feed off the energy created by the play, which came early in a 16-3 run to close the third quarter that put them up 97-95.
Jazz: Host the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.
Pelicans: Host the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.
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