Monday night marks the first game of the Utah Jazz's five-game, East coast road swing.
The Jazz are coming off of a 109-82 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. While beating the Lakers is hardly notable these days, the Jazz used a balanced attack to take them down in convincing fashion. Rookie Trey Lyles impressed with a 17-point and nine rebound performance on 6-for-10 shooting.
Ever since the Derrick Favors has been reeling with back spasms, Lyles has impressed. Lyles is averaging 10.0 points and 5.9 rebounds on 55.4 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent shooting on three-pointers (8-for-16). Dealing with a player who is potentially breaking out can be problematic because there's usually not a ton of tape on him. For Lyles, there certainly isn't a ton of it on him at the NBA level yet. On a team that can hurt you in a few ways, you can't afford to miss one potential weapon.
Meanwhile, the Hornets are 4-11 in their last 15-games, and winners of just one in their last 10. In recent weeks, it's been hard to tell what to make of this team as they've lost to Phoenix and Oklahoma City in that 10-game stretch. It would be easier to point to this game as a possible bounce back game, but the Jazz defense has been fortified with the return of Rudy Gobert.
Comparatively, the Jazz have been winners in three of their last five games. Similarly, this is also a mixed sample that includes two wins over the Lakers, and losses to Portland and Sacramento. I'm not even sure if beating Miami in that time pushes the needle either way. Still, if one thing is evident, it's that the Jazz have more momentum coming in.
If the Hornets can't beat the Jazz on Monday night, the rematch is already scheduled for January 27, except on Utah's turf. Or hardwood, rather.