Losing like this is what teams do when they're out of the playoff hunt and dreaming of a summer golfing and margaritas. The Hornets, who entered the night in the eight seed, have fallen to the tenth seed in the Eastern Conference. Feel free to blame the lopsided loss on some ridiculous hot shooting from the Utah Jazz or dare to dive deeper with me to figure out what really went wrong in this game.
From the start, the Jazz looked like the far superior team. After Rudy Gobert and his super long arms won the tip, every Utah player touched the basketball before their first field goal attempt. The Hornets on the other hand, went two possessions with two total passes. This literally sums up the entire night of basketball. Fans and scouts might say this has been a trend with the Hornets all season long, but it's true the Hornets have had great moments of ball movement this season.Tonight was not one of those nights.
Defensively, Mo Williams started out letting Dante Exum have it wide open from 3-point range. He missed the first one, but he then made the next two. In Williams defense Exum isn't exactly a lights out 3-point shooter, but that's besides the point. This started a crazy run from the Jazz, who made eight-of-nine first quarter 3-point attempts. Feel free to scream fluke all you like, but all but one of these three-point attempts were assisted and most were wide open. Also, this is now the fourth game in a row the Hornets were dominated in the first quarter. Starting with defense is no longer a Charlotte thing. Only Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Gerald Henderson played a lick of defense in the early going, which was unfair for how little they touched the ball on offense.
Things got really bad in the second quarter, and carried over to the third quarter. Gordon Hayward was getting any shot he wanted, despite the quality defense of Kidd-Gilchrist. Rodney Hood, a rookie drafted a few spots ahead of P.J. Hairston (inactive), was 100 percent from the floor at one point and was leading the Jazz in scoring for most of the game. He finished with a career high 24 points. Rudy Gobert had somewhere in the neighborhood of 97 rebounds (editor please confirm this).
In the fourth quarter, the end of the bench was in the game. Noah Vonleh flashed some quality moments (but also made a few questionable defensive rotations) and Jeffery Taylor was a little too involved on offense. Also, Troy Daniels hit a pair of 3-pointers, one of which was at the end of regulation (bad Karma alert). That 3-pointer by Daniels made the final score 94-66. The final score for Charlotte was a season low.
The best moment from the game for the Hornets was almost the worst. In the second quarter, when things were really spiraling out of hand, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had an incredible chase-down block.
He covered half of the court in the blink of an eye and swatted the ball out of the hands of Elijah Milsap. It was one of those plays only a guy like MKG makes. The score could be 150 to 5 and he still makes that play. Unfortunately, it is that sort of play that brings high injury risk. After the play, Kidd-Gilchrist was slow to get up and was wincing while holding his wrist. He remained in the game and had a strong third quarter. Hopefully there are no lingering effects.
Coming up, the Hornets have the Los Angeles Clippers tomorrow night.