NEW ORLEANS — The Utah Jazz were bested on Thursday night, ending their longest win streak of the season (three games). Despite the 112-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, heads were not hanging.

Jazz head coach Will Hardy is not one to shy away from criticizing his team, as we’ve seen in the past, but he also gives credit where it’s due and even though the Jazz lost the game — shooting 30% from 3-point range and committing 19 turnovers usually isn’t a great recipe — he comes away from this five-game road trip feeling like the team is trending in the right direction.

“In general, our effort was really good,” Hardy said. “We got up more shots than them, we shot 10 more free throws than them, we had 17 offensive rebounds ... Tonight was tough. I think overall, though, it’s been a good road trip. We’ve won four out of our last seven on the road. I want the team to be upset about losing, for sure, but to feel pretty good about where they’re at as a team.”

Prior to the Jazz’s Dec. 14 win on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers, the team had only won a single road game this season, making them one of the worst road teams in the league.

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The Detroit Pistons, who on Thursday night lost an overtime game to the Boston Celtics tying them with the Philadelphia 76ers for most consecutive losses in NBA history at 28, are the only other team with just a single road win on the season. That’s not the company you want to keep.

But, like Hardy said, they’ve won four of the last seven away from home and have a 6-3 record over the last nine games.

During that stretch they are right in the middle of the pack when it comes to offensive and defensive rating and they are tied at seventh in the league for assists, which is where Hardy and the Jazz players say there’s been the most improvement.

“We’re doing more of the right things,” Lauri Markkanen said. “Just in the way we play — moving the ball, moving without the ball. We’re a team that likes to move without the ball and play off ball screens with cutting and everybody touching the ball and I think we’ve been doing a better job of that lately.”

But it’s not just the ball movement, or increasing the number of passes and assists. More specifically, what has been standing out to Hardy and the players is the way that the Jazz are approaching moving the ball. There’s been less dribbling between passes and the players are starting to trust that their teammates are going to make the right decision.

That trust and belief in the Jazz’s offensive system has then led to a more connected defense.

“There’s not an anxiety about getting off the ball, like it’s not going to come back to you,” Hardy said. “I think everybody feels like we’re all just trying to make the right play and find open shots for our team. And that’s led to more activity defensively. I think overall we just have a different presence about us right now.”

Now, an average offensive and defensive rating might not seem like the kind of statistical range to get excited about, but prior to the last nine games the Jazz had the 26th ranked offense and defense. So being the 13th best offense and 14th best defense over the last two-and-a-half weeks is quite an achievement.

The Jazz are happy to have this road trip behind them and look forward to being back at home. Despite being at home for Christmas Eve after three games on the road, the Jazz’s road trip continued after their short break and the Jazz haven’t played in front of their home crowd since Dec. 18.

“I don’t even know what my house looks like in Utah anymore,” Kris Dunn joked. “It’ll be good to get back and unwind a little bit. But this is the NBA, we’ll get right back to work.”

The Jazz will be at home for three games to face the Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday, respectively, before getting back on the road again.