The Hornets got off to another slow start, but this time it wasn’t because they got buried from three. They played good-ish defense, but they could not get their shots to drop. They didn’t make their first field goal until the 7:25 mark of the first. They finished the first half shooting 5-of-24 from the field and 2-of-11 from three. At its worst, the Hornets trailed 29-8. They took a 35-16 into the second quarter.
The Hornets slow start bled into the second quarter, but they played stifling defense on the other end to keep the game from getting completely out of hand. Jalen McDaniels provided a spark for the Hornets in both the first and second quarter with some strong defensive plays and transition buckets. The Hornets did find some offense has the second quarter went along, The only area they really struggled was keeping the Jazz off the glass and the free throw line, which proved to be a theme for the night as a hole. By halftime, the Hornets had chipped six points off their first quarter deficit.
The teams exchanged mini-runs to start the second half before a pair of LaMelo Ball 3-pointers on back to back possessions pulled the Hornets within single digits for the first time since the 8:13 mark of the first quarter. They further pulled closer when Ish Smith dropped in a pull-up 3-pointer out of nowhere to get the Hornets within six, but Jordan Clarkson splashed consecutive threes on the other end to restore a 12 point lead for the Jazz.
We barely missed out on Mason Plumlee halfcourt heave early in the fourth, but his shot clock beating attempted rattled out. Terry Rozier had better luck finding the bottom of the basket, as he found his touch when it looked like the Jazz might put the game away early in the fourth. He hit three straight 3-pointers to get the Hornets back within arm’s reach. It was the start of a 20-2 Hornets run (with 14 coming from Rozier) to give the Hornets a 92-91 lead with 3:30 to play. That would be the high point of the ball game. The Jazz answered right back with a 15-3 run that took back the majority of the ground the Hornets had made up. The Hornets didn’t have the time or the legs to make another push after that.
The Hornets played a very good game outside of the poor shooting in the first quarter. They struggled with the size and strength of Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside, but that’s no wholly surprising given the construction of this roster. If the Hornets defend like this on a nightly basis, their offense can carry them to wins on most nights.
Ball had 11 assists and Bridges had 11 rebounds to go with their 21 points apiece. Rozier’s hot fourth quarter helped him reach 20 points as well, and hopefully spurs him to better shooting nights going forward. McDaniels finished with 14 points.
The Hornets have a couple of nights off before taking on the Nuggets in Denver. That mercifully ends this road trip.