Terry Rozier and Kelly Oubre combined for 46 points, but they were outdone by 37 points from Talen Horton-Tucker as the Charlotte Hornets lost to the Utah Jazz, 119-111.
The Hornets dug themselves an early 6-0 hole before Terry Rozier finally got them on the scoreboard. The sluggish start eventually gave way to a barrage of scoring from both teams. The Jazz kept the Hornets at arm’s length for the duration of the back-and-forth and led by three after one.
The Hornets offense struggled in the second quarter. After a couple of quick buckets from Dennis Smith, Charlotte went about three-and-a-half minutes without a point (which was also scored by Smith). The Jazz offense was only slightly better, so they didn’t create too much of a lead out of the drought. Talen Horton-Tucker had a little outburst to push the Jazz up double figures, and his last second shot put the Jazz up 11 at the half. Some foreshadowing there.
Horton-Tucker went nuts to start the second half. He scored 10 points in the first three minutes as the Jazz opened their lead up to 16 points. The Hornets took a timeout to try to stop the bleeding, but it had little effect. Horton-Tucker cooled off a bit, but the Hornets gave up several uncontested dunks off offensive rebounds and dump offs. The Jazz led by as many as 23 at a couple of different points, but Terry Rozier and Kelly Oubre chipped away at that deficit just a bit by making enough of the bevy of long jumpers the duo attempted in the quarter. After three, the Hornets trailed 97-81.
3-pointers from PJ Washington, Kelly Oubre, and Dennis Smith cut the Jazz’s (is that how you say that?) lead back into single digits. Horton-Tucker continued with his funky floaters and runners in the paint while the Hornets were getting contributions from just about everyone on the floor. The Hornets started running out of team and needed to get stops, but they were hard to come by. When they did get them on the initial shot, they were prone to offensive rebounds and putbacks for Walker Kessler. Time eventually ran out with the Hornets down by eight.
The Hornets defense wasn’t as bad as the score would suggest, but they gave up 20 offensive rebounds. The Jazz put up 103 shots, which is an extremely high number for a regulation NBA game. The initial shot defense was good, but the Hornets struggled with the Jazz’s size on the glass. Walker Kessler had eight offensive boards all by himself.
The Hornets did a great job containing the Jazz’s best player. Lauri Markkanen scored just 13 points on 3-of-22 shooting. Unfortunately Horton-Tucker picked up the slack with 37 points, 10 assists, and nine rebounds.
Offensively, the ball was dominated by Kelly Oubre and Terry Rozier when they were in the game in the second half. They shot the ball decently well, so it wasn’t a glaring problem tonight, but it certainly wasn’t a sustainable model of offensive success. They attempted 25 of the Hornets 49 second half field goal attempts.
The Hornets will have their shortest turnaround of the year as the host the Cleveland Cavaliers at 5:00 on Sunday.