The Hornets got of to another sluggish start. They let the Jazz rebound all of their first three message, which prompted an early James Borrego timeout. The timeout seemed to focus the squad, as they played with much better energy after that. Terry Rozier did the bulk of the work for the Hornets offense with 11 first quarter points, including three 3-pointers made. A couple of 3-pointers briefly gave the Hornets the lead, but Miles Bridges turned the ball over while dribbling the clock down and the Jazz took it for a 3-point play and a one point lead heading into the second quarter.
LaMelo Ball, who had been ice cold for the first 15 minutes or so of the game, hit a pair of 3-pointers and a nifty 3-point play to give the Hornets a modest lead. The teams traded baskets in a sudden offensive outburst. The Hornets led by as many as six as Miles Bridges got in on the action, but Donovan Mitchell hit a shot from near half court to pull the Jazz within three in the final seconds of the half.
Ball and Bridges scored the first 13 points of the second half as the Hornets built their lead as large as nine. The Hornets could never really build a comfortable stiff arm though. Every time it looked like the Hornets might be able to build a bit of a lead, the Jazz would knock down a string of 3-pointers to get back in it. That peaked with under a minute to go in the quarter. The Jazz worked their way back within two, and then kicked away a LaMelo Ball pass. The kick went uncalled, and a stunned Hornets team didn’t get back on defense as Jordan Clarkson hit an uncontested 3-pointer. The Jazz held that one point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The teams traded baskets and the lead for the first couple of minutes of the fourth quarter. A Hornets timeout sparked a run where the Hornets forced a couple of turnovers and hit three straight shots to take a six point lead, but the Jazz quickly rallied and took it back. We reached the 90 second mark with the teams tied as they traded haymakers. Terry Rozier hit a difficult fading three to put the Hornets up three, but Donovan Mitchell got two of those back with an impossible leaning floater. Miles Bridges attacked Rudy Gobert to get to the line and calmly sank two free throws to restore the three point lead. Mitchell missed a bunny on the other end, and the Hornets secured the rebound. Rozier sank a couple of free throws, and Mitchell responded by shooting a deep pull up 3-pointer over the backboard. The free throw game set the final score.
It was a reminder of how good this Hornets team can be when they’re locked in and playing their best. They weren’t perfect defensively, but they made the Jazz work for baskets and got a number of deflections to bust up Jazz possessions. They outrebounded a Jazz team that dominated the boards in the first meeting between these two teams.
The Hornets now have to hit the road to continue a very difficult stretch of games. This win was a good bounce back from the Knicks lost and should give the Hornets some confidence and momentum as they travel to Brooklyn to face the Nets and the likely home debut of Kyire Irving.