In a twist no one saw coming, both teams put on an offensive clinic in the first half. Nicolas Batum got the start in place of Cody Zeller, and it worked to perfection. Devonte’ Graham broke out of his shooting slump with three triples and 12 points in the first quarter. Cody Martin hit a triple of his own, a sign of things to come. On the other end, the Hornets struggled to contain Rudy Gobert. He achieved a double double in under nine minutes. After one, the Hornets led 33-31.
Malik Monk drove in for a layup and Martin got ahead of the pack for a transition dunk, forcing a Jazz timeout. The Hornets stayed hot from deep, and at one point had connected on 8-of-10 3-point attempts. Cody Martin got a few more transition buckets to notch his first career double figure scoring game with 11 points in the first half. The Hornets generally played flawless offensive basketball. The ball was pinging around the perimeter and players were finding each other for easy looks on the interior. The Hornets assisted on 15 of their 26 made baskets in the first half, which played a big part in them shooting 59% from the field and 60% from three. By halftime, they had dropped 64 points on the Jazz and led by eight.
Terry Rozier opened the second half scoring with a tough step-back three in the corner. The Hornets offense bogged down a bit compared to where it was in the first half. They were still able to generate some decent looks, but there was a lot less ball movement and a lot more isolation play. The Jazz found their range, making six 3-pointers in the quarter, and eventually tied the game. The Hornets were able to take by a narrow two point lead. By the end of the third quarter, Terry Rozier had somehow tallied 24 points despite me barely remembering seeing him make a shot.
The Hornets lost that lead in 12 seconds thanks to a Donovan Mitchell and-1. After some back and forth, the Jazz went on an all jumper 7-0 run to build a lead. They extended it to a game high eight a few plays later after back to back corner 3-pointers from Royce O’Neale and Joe Ingles. At one point during the madness, two Jazz players collided chasing a loose ball, leading to an easy layup for Terry Rozier. Jazz coach Quin Snyder thought something wasn’t right at some point during the play, and got his second technical foul of the game for arguing with the officials. The Hornets went ice cold down the stretch. Terry Rozier made a layup with 4:50 left. The Hornets wouldn’t make another shot from the field until there were 35 seconds left in the game.
That shot was a Cody Zeller put back while getting fouled. He hit the ensuing free throw to pull the Hornets within four. The Hornets did a good job guarding the initial inbound from the Jazz, but a communication breakdwon left O’Neale all alone under the basket. His layup put the Jazz back up six with 27 seconds to go. A well drawn up inbound play freed Devonte’ Graham up for a 3-pointer that made it a one possession game. The next Jazz possession went similarly and put the game away.
The beautiful offense the Hornets played in the first half when by the wayside in the second. Most possessions featured a lot of dribbling and tough jump shots out of isolation plays. Some of that is due to the Jazz defense, and some is due to the Hornets lack of focus on offense.
Cody Martin scored a career high 11 points, all in the first half. He always finds a way to make his presence felt when he’s on the court. Cody Zeller and Malik Monk also made it into double digits with 13 and 10 respectively.
The Hornets have a quick turnaround and take on the Celtics in Boston on Sunday.