By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
November 28, 2012
Just 26 days after the Jazz last visited the Hornets in the Crescent City on Nov. 2, Utah returns for a mid-week rematch with New Orleans. The Nov. 2 meeting in the Big Easy was a good news/bad news affair for the Hornets, who won 88-86 on a Greivis Vasquez driving layup with 1.3 seconds remaining, but lost Anthony Davis for the next two games due to a concussion he sustained in the second quarter. The Hornets went on to post an impressive 89-82 road victory the next night in Chicago, but played one of their worst games of the season on Nov. 7 vs. Philadelphia, a 77-62 defeat.
Utah had a chance to win at the buzzer in the Nov. 2 contest, but point guard Mo Williams’ off-balance, turnaround three-point attempt over Vasquez at the buzzer caromed off the back of the rim. The tight road loss was a bad early omen for the Jazz, who have struggled mightily away from Salt Lake City this season. Utah dropped six of its first eight road games, with its only victories during that stretch coming in triple overtime against Toronto and at winless Washington.
Wednesday’s game against the Jazz is the first contest of a five-game Hornets homestand. Following the Utah game, New Orleans will host Oklahoma City on Saturday; Milwaukee on Monday; the Lakers next Wednesday; and Memphis next Friday.
The Hornets and Jazz will face each other a total of four times this season, wrapping up their head-to-head affairs on Jan. 30 and April 5 in Utah’s EnergySolutions Arena.
Intriguing matchup: Point guard, Greivis Vasquez vs. Mo Williams
In addition to scoring the first game-winning basket of his NBA career vs. Utah on Nov. 2, Vasquez handed out 10 assists, to go with 13 points. In October, Vasquez set what seemed to be an extremely lofty goal of averaging 10 assists per game in 2012-13, but through the first three weeks of the season, he ranked third in the statistic, behind only Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul. Williams and Jazz backup point guard Randy Foye combined for 34 points vs. the Hornets in the previous matchup.
Utah’s bid to return to the Western Conference playoffs for a second straight year is off to an up-and-down start, with the Jazz’s effectiveness fluctuating partly based on whether they’re at home or on the road. The Jazz went unbeaten in their first five home games – including quality, decisive wins over Dallas and the Lakers – but were just 2-7 on the road. The Jazz have been extremely balanced early in 2012-13, with six players averaging double digits in scoring.
The club’s most significant offseason addition, Mo Williams, has provided the Jazz with a much-needed steadying presence at point guard. Williams tops Utah in assists. Backup guard Randy Foye poured in a team-best 20 points for the Jazz in their Nov. 2 loss at New Orleans, keeping the visitors within striking distance. A longtime Atlanta Hawk, small forward Marvin Williams started the first 10 games of the season for Utah.
After a relatively slow start that included a 10-point, 5-for-13 shooting game at New Orleans, Al Jefferson has been a scoring and rebounding force. During a four-game road stretch from Nov. 12-17, the Mississippi native was dominant, averaging 18.3 points and 13.3 rebounds. Jefferson is on pace to set a career high in rebounding average.
On the rise
From a long-term perspective, Favors was the biggest piece of the Jazz trade that sent Deron Williams to the Nets two seasons ago. Just 21 years old, the 6-foot-10 Favors continues to show improvement, causing Utah to come up with ways to get him on the court more frequently. Utah has experimented with playing Favors at small forward, creating an extra-large frontcourt with the 6-10 Jefferson and burly 6-8 power forward Paul Millsap.
The Jazz ranked just 27th in three-point percentage last season, at 31.7. Behind the additions of Mo Williams and Foye, Utah should climb closer to the middle of the pack. Foye is capable of giving the Jazz a big offensive spark off the bench; he was 4-for-7 from three-point range against the Hornets on Nov. 2. Utah shot 6-for-12 as a team on treys.
On the sideline
Tyrone Corbin guided the Jazz to a 36-30 record and a playoff berth in 2011-12, his first full season at the helm. Corbin took over after longtime Utah leader Jerry Sloan resigned midway through the 2010-11 campaign.
Did you know?
From the 1974-75 season through 1978-79, the Jazz called New Orleans home, before moving to Salt Lake City. The Jazz did not make the playoffs once during their five-year run in Louisiana. The first-ever NBA postseason game in Louisiana took place in 2003, when the Hornets hosted the Philadelphia 76ers.
|Players the Jazz want shooting free throws in a close game…||If the Jazz need a three-pointer, three of their best options are…|