SALT LAKE CITY -- Paul Millsap loves Louisiana, his home state.
Consequentially, he'd never think of disrespecting its state bird, the pelican.
Following Wednesday's shootaround at EnergySolutions Arena, Millsap was asked about the New Orleans Hornets' upcoming name change to the Pelicans.
"That's the state bird," he said.
After an awkward pause he added, "I mean, it's the state bird."
After some prodding, Millsap, who was born in Monroe, La., said he was proud of the pelican.
"I'm from Louisiana, so yeah," he said.
New Orleans owner Tom Benson has been anxious to get rid of the Hornets nickname since buying the team last spring.
At one time it was rumored he was interested in trying to pry the Jazz nickname away from Utah. But earlier this month the team announced it was changing its nickname to the Pelicans.
The change is supposed to take place for next season.
Some players and coaches around the league have scoffed at the new name, joking that it doesn't quite befit an NBA team.
"It's not very intimidating," Lakers' guard Kobe Bryant said last week.
Jazz center Al Jefferson, from neighboring Mississippi, said he had no opinion on the name change.
"It flies, that's all I can tell you," he said.
As for Millsap, when asked if he approved of the new name, he repeated again, "It's the state bird."
Jazz 104, Hornets 99
* BEST LINE: Millsap finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots for the Jazz.
* KEY STAT: Earl Watson played 9:44 in the second quarter, did not score a point but had three rebounds and four assists. He provided a spark that helped Utah outscore the Hornets 32-18.
* LILLARD IN, JAZZ OUT: The NBA announced its roster for the NBA All-Star Rising Star Challenge, which will be played Feb. 15 in Houston as part of the 2013 All-Star Weekend.
Former Weber State guard Damian Lillard will join reigning Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving and New Orleans rookie Anthony Davis in the event.
The game is for selected rookies and second-year players.
Jazz players Enes Kanter, Alec Burks and Kevin Murphy were eligible but were not selected.
On Feb. 7, TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal each will draft a team from this year's rookie and sophomore selections.
* WE'RE SORRY: Jazz guard Randy Foye said the team has moved on from Monday's 45-point loss to Houston, but before Wednesday's game stressed his desire to play well in front of the home crowd.
"It's very important (to put Monday's game in the past)," he said. "Especially in front of our home crowd."
Asked if he thinks the team is under an obligation to its fans, Jefferson said that much is implied.
"That's our obligation every night we step on the court," he said.
* INJURY REPORT: Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward missed his second straight game with a sprained right shoulder. Point guard Mo Williams missed his 18th since having surgery on his right thumb. ... Eric Gordon (sore right knee) sat out for the Hornets.
* ETC.: The Jazz are now 15-11 overall when trailing after the first period. ... Randy Foye finished with 14 points and went 2-for-6 behind the 3-point line. He has at least one 3 in his last 13 games. ... The Jazz are 5-1 when Millsap and Jefferson each scores 20 or more. Millsap had 25, Jefferson had 22.
* UP NEXT: The Jazz will play host to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, then face the Blazers again Saturday in Portland, Ore.