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Game Preview: Hornets vs Jazz

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The Hornets follow up a nice, but expected, win against the 76ers with a home game against one of the Western Conference's worst, the Utah Jazz.

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The Hornets won a game yesterday. If they win won tonight, that's two in a row. If they continue to win, that's called a "winning streak." It has happened before.

Lou Brown paraphrasing aside, it was nice to see the Hornets pick up a much-needed win against a weaker opponent, as it doesn't seem like it's happened all year. Back-to-back games that involve traveling are never easy, but getting to play them against two of the weakest teams in the NBA makes it much more manageable for Charlotte. With only seven wins so far on the season, you might think that the Hornets don't have a ton of consecutive wins. And you'd be right! It happened once this season, in the first week of November.

Thankfully, they're going to get a good opportunity to have that happen again, as the Utah Jazz enter tonight's contest with an 8-19 record. Yeah, okay, that's technically better than the Hornets' record, but the Jazz haven't played as tough of a schedule as Charlotte has. In fact, theirs is a measly 5th-toughest in the league, compared to the Hornets' impossible 3rd-toughest schedule.

To be more serious, the Jazz do have a quite awful defense, ranking 29th in the NBA in defensive rating, and that'll be where the Hornets should be looking to take advantage. Utah's interior defense is really their weak point, allowing opponents to shoot .515 from inside of the arc, so tonight's matchup might begin and end with Al Jefferson. If he can hit a bit more of his shots against Utah tonight, that'll be a big edge in Charlotte's favor.

Offensively, Utah is better than you might expect, and it comes mostly from their offensive rebounding and interior scoring. They're able to extend possessions thanks to the strong play on the boards by Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Rudy Gobert. Other valuable contributors include the versatility of Gordon Hayward and the dead-eye shooting of Alec Burks. Like the Hornets, Utah is also not a strong three-point shooting team, but they have the ability to stay in most games due to their scoring ability and glacially slow pace.

The Hornets are the better team, and they should end up with the win, but don't be shocked if the Jazz pull off an upset. It wouldn't be the first time; they have already beaten the Cavaliers and the Spurs this season. Also, try not to be too sad about missing out on a potential Gordon Hayward free agent signing last summer if he completely outplays Lance Stephenson.