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Utah Jazz: Players consider game vs. Hornets a 'must-win'

Utah's Paul Millsap is fouled by Robin Lopez as the Jazz and Hornets play Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013 in Energy Solutions arena.
Utah's Paul Millsap is fouled by Robin Lopez as the Jazz and Hornets play Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013 in Energy Solutions arena.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Mo Williams didn't mince words when talking about the importance of tonight's game against the New Orleans Hornets for the Utah Jazz.

"It's very important," Williams said. "It's a must-win."

A victory over the 26-49 visitors from the Bayou will keep the Jazz within a half game of the Lakers. L.A. (39-36) currently holds a slight edge over Utah (39-37) heading into its own big game against Memphis at Staples Center.

The Jazz have an even tougher schedule the rest of the way, including Sunday's game at Golden State, a home contest versus Oklahoma City on Tuesday, and a season-ending match-up at Memphis on April 17. The Jazz also play Minnesota in a home-and-away series in the final week.

"We've got six games left," Williams said. "We're going to make the best of them."

More short shots from shootaround:

— Jazz small forward Marvin Williams will play after sitting out Thursday's practice with right heel tendinitis. Utah will be without backup big man Enes Kanter (dislocated left shoulder) and rookie guard Kevin Murphy (skin infection).

Their absences will allow D-League call-up Jerel McNeal to be active again. Today is the final day of his 10-day contract, and the Jazz haven't announced whether they'll retain the combo guard for the remainder of the season.

— Randy Foye on whether or not the Jazz have hit the panic button after getting blown out by Denver on Wednesday:

"You can't, man. You can't really think about it. The only way you can hit the panic button is when it's all said and done.

"As of now, we've just got to go out there and understand the sense of urgency to win the game. But you can't hit the panic button because you're thinking in the back of your mind, 'Oh, we need to win this game, we need to win this game,' and you start doing things you're not accustomed to doing.

"What we should focus on is just going out there and playing as hard as we can and we give ourselves the best chance to win that way."

— Gordon Hayward on the Jazz's mindset following the 17-point loss to Denver:

"I think we definitely still believe. We can't really have any more bad losses, but we're still right in this thing. It definitely is important. A game at home. New Orleans really has nothing to lose. They're playing pretty well the last few games, beaten some pretty good teams. It's going to be a tough test for us."

— Williams on what he thinks makes the Jazz a playoff-worthy team:

"We've stuck together through everything. That shows a lot of character. When people, everybody in the world, thought we were down and out, we found a way to resurrect ourselves. We always find a way to come up big and get wins and go on a streak when we need to be."

— Foye on his match-up with the Hornets' leading scorer, Eric Gordon (16.8 ppg), who hasn't played in any of the team's games this season:

"He's a great player. He does some really great things. He's explosive. He's their best scorer. I deal with that a lot — Andre Iguodala, James Harden — on a nightly basis. I've just got to step up, and I accept the challenge."