Utah Jazz roll over Charlotte Hornets for 8th straight win
Anchored by excellent defense, Utah got going in the last five minutes of the first quarter, the crowd woke up and the Jazz coasted to a 109-92 victory
SALT LAKE CITY — Over the course of an 82-game regular season, there are contests that, for a variety of reasons, just don’t have the same excitement as others. They’re merely one of 82 on the schedule.
Friday’s tilt between the Utah Jazz and Charlotte Hornets had the makings of such a game. The two teams are in different conferences and are on completely different trajectories, as the Jazz have major playoff aspirations and had won 12 of their last 13 games coming into the night, while the Hornets are rebuilding and had lost eight of 10.
Even before the game started, the Vivint Arena crowd was as lethargic during starting lineups as it has been in a long while, and then both teams were out of sorts in the early minutes.
But anchored by excellent defense, Utah got going in the last five minutes of the first quarter, the crowd woke up and the Jazz coasted to a 109-92 victory after leading by as many as 33 points, their eighth consecutive win and 13th in their last 14 games.
“When you’re able to score on the other side of getting stops, obviously the game’s a bit easier. I think we got off to a good start, but we played 48 minutes” — Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles
In truth, the blowout subdued the fans, although they certainly got their money’s worth if they were looking for a convincing win for the home team. It was Utah’s 17th straight victory over an opponent with a sub-.500 record, and it moved its record to 26-12 on the season. Charlotte is now 15-26.
How good were the Jazz defensively early on? Over the final 8:25 of the first quarter, the Hornets scored just six points, and two of them came on a buzzer-beater from Malik Monk to end the frame as Utah opened up a 29-13 advantage.
In the quarter, Charlotte shot just 5 of 16 from the field and had committed seven turnovers (the Jazz tallied four steals). Rudy Gobert had seven rebounds and two blocked shots in the first 12 minutes.
“Donovan (Mitchell) and Royce (O’Neale) at the start of the game did a great job (defensively),” said forward Joe Ingles, who finished with 11 points, three assists and a steal. “I think we just kind of made it tough on them from the start.”
As the old catchphrase goes, defense really did turn into offense for Utah, as it finished the first quarter alone with 14 points off turnovers. For the night, the Jazz had 24.
Then when Utah got in the halfcourt, it dissected the Hornets’ defense rather masterfully for open shot after open shot. In the quarter, the Jazz made 11 of their 21 shot attempts, which included going 6 of 12 from behind the 3-point line. Bojan Bogdanovic was particularly lethal, as he had 11 points on 4 of 5 shooting, including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc.
Utah then widened its lead to 23 points by halftime and 25 at the end of the third quarter, which was enough for head coach Quin Snyder to put a lineup of Emmanuel Mudiay, Rayjon Tucker, Jordan Clarkson, Georges Niang and Tony Bradley on the floor to start the fourth.
“When you’re able to score on the other side of getting stops, obviously the game’s a bit easier,” Ingles said. “I think we got off to a good start, but we played 48 minutes.”
The effort was far more than enough to overcome a game from Donovan Mitchell in which he scored just four points on 2 of 9 shooting. It was the first time since December of 2018 that Mitchell didn’t reach double-figures. That being said, he was excellent defensively, especially early, and finished with four rebounds and two steals.
As has been suspected over the past few days, Snyder acknowledged that Mitchell has been dealing with an illness.
“He fought through some stuff tonight,” Snyder said, noting Mitchell’s defensive performance. “It’s no different than if someone else has the hot hand, that you do the things that you can do to make the team more efficient. ... Tonight, what Donovan did playing when he’s under the weather, helped us win.”
The Jazz will now head back out on the road for a three-game trip.