Through three quarters, the Charlotte Hornets struggled to find an answer for Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell. The rookie from Louisville had 31 points entering the fourth quarter, but was held to only four the rest of the game as the Hornets’ defense clamped down en route to a 99-88 victory in front of the home crowd.
Offensively, Kemba Walker led six Hornets in double figures with 22 points and six assists. Dwight Howard added eigt points and 13 rebounds as Charlotte out rebounded the Jazz by the slimmest of margins, 46-45.
It was one of the best defensive performances of the season for Buzz City, holding Utah to 36 percent shooting from the field and only 34 percent from the 3-point line. It was a welcomed sight as the game wore on after the Jazz hit five of their first nine from outside the arc.
Friday night’s victory was much needed after the Hornets let one slip away on Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks. As has been all season, Charlotte struggled to defend the Mavs as Rick Carlisle’s team put up 115 points and knocked 15 3-pointers in the win.
The Hornets have now won four of their last six games and will be right back at it on Saturday night as they welcome the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Queen City. The Thunder have lost three games in a row and five of their last seven.
With six home games in the next seven, Charlotte has a great opportunity to get right back into the thick of the playoff race. It will also help that head coach Steve Clifford is expected to return to the team at the beginning of the week after a lengthy layoff due to health concerns.
If the Hornets have any hopes of making the playoffs, the next two weeks are of the utmost importance. Hopefully, the win over the Jazz is just the start of something bigger for the 2017-18 Charlotte Hornets.