The Charlotte Hornets came up short against the Utah Jazz, 106-94. Kemba Walker led the Hornets with 19 points. Donovan Mitchell led all scorers with 25, while Joe Ingles scored 23, and Rudy Gobert added 20.
Utah jumped out to an early lead and looked on the verge of pushing it to double digits, but a solid run from the Hornets bench tied the game at 22-22 late in the first quarter. It didn’t last long, as Utah knocked down two consecutive 3-pointers. Treveon Graham hit a jumper to get two back, and the Hornets trailed by four at the end of the first.
The bench unit kicked off the second quarter with a 7-0 run, putting the Hornets up by three. Jonas Jerekbo answered with a 3 following a Jazz timeout, which prompted a couple of lead changes from both teams.
Frank Kaminsky and Jeremy Lamb played big parts in the second. Both scored in double figures, combining for 21 points in the first half.
Utah went on a 7-0 run to go up by three, and led the rest of the quarter. A late 3-pointer by Mitchell made things worse, and Charlotte trailed 55-46 at halftime.
The Hornets responded with a 9-2 run to start the third quarter. Utah leveled things out a bit, but Charlotte remained much in the game thanks to 3-pointers from Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams.
Then Walker got hot from deep, knocking down two in a row to cut Utah’s lead to three. Walker scored eight points in the quarter, and the Hornets kept pace with the Jazz for the most part, but trailed by seven entering the fourth.
But the fourth, predictably, didn’t go well. The Jazz went up by double digits and looked on the cusp of pulling away. Walker and the Hornets cut the deficit to seven, but Utah wouldn’t let it get closer. The home team pushed their lead to 13 with around three minutes remaining, leaving things too late for Charlotte to mount a comeback.
Tonight wasn’t necessarily a bad lost, but Charlotte never looked like a team that could over come Utah’s lead. They didn’t make enough stops on defense, and Utah took advantage. Call it fatigue from the quick layover a the delayed flight, but the needed spark to take the lead and maintain never looked in play. It’s a schedule loss to a degree, but it’s also a reflection of Charlotte’s season as a whole. The Hornets aren’t terrible, but they aren’t good enough to win in situations like tonight when the odds are against them before tip-off.
With the loss, Charlotte ends the road trip at 1-3. They play the Toronto Raptors next on Sunday. It’s a 1:00 p.m. tip, and the Raptors have the best record in the Eastern Conference. Not exactly the kind of game the Hornets want to return home to.