Hornets.com postgame: Jazz 95, Hornets 83
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Jazz (40-37), Hornets (26-50)
It was over when… Utah’s Gordon Hayward drained a 20-footer from the right wing with just over three minutes remaining, giving the Jazz a 91-77 lead. Hayward’s hot shooting in the fourth quarter – combined with an early drought by New Orleans – enabled the hosts to create a cushion after leading just 71-67 through three periods. The Jazz picked up a critical victory in their pursuit of the Lakers and the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. New Orleans is 0-2 on its five-game road trip, with a visit to Phoenix next on Sunday.
Hornets MVP: Anthony Davis played one of the better games of his rookie NBA season, scoring in perhaps a wider variety of ways than we’ve seen. While Davis has had several games in which he’s feasted on dunks, the University of Kentucky product converted on a few quasi-back-to-the-basket moves, en route to a 24-point effort. His career high is 28 points. The 20-year-old bounced back from a rough outing Wednesday at Golden State, tallying at least 10 points in each half. He also grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked three Utah shots. An impressed Utah center Al Jefferson said of Davis: "Unbelievable. He's an amazing player. He's got a high (basketball) IQ for a rookie. The more time he plays, the better he's going to be. It's going to be scary."
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: For the second straight game,New Orleans’ second unit experienced a very forgettable evening. Hornets backups combined to shoot a woeful 2-for-25 from the field (8 percent). The reserves were on the floor early in the fourth quarter, when they could not break through for points during a critical five-minute span. Lou Amundson was a semi-bright spot with three rebounds (two offensive) and two points in 13 minutes.
The buzz on… future decisions, with six games remaining in the season. Hornets head coach Monty Williams said earlier this week that the final stretch of the season will give him a clearer picture of the professionalism of some of his players. The Hornets have been officially eliminated from playoff contention since mid-March, leaving them without the obvious motivation a postseason hopeful like the Jazz has late in the long 82-game season. Williams also noted that the Hornets have already played more than 70 games, giving the front office and coaches plenty of tangible video and performances to review. “We’ve seen enough from most of our guys,” Williams said. “This is a big time for them, because we want to make sure our guys finish strong. That’s a huge evaluation in my opinion. What kind of pro are you, when it doesn’t look like you’re going to go to the playoffs?” To the Hornets’ credit, since being ruled out of the playoff hunt, they’ve beaten several quality opponents such as Denver, Boston and Memphis, while being competitive in nearly every defeat vs. other playoff-bound foes.