Hornets Head to Utah to Close Out Back-to-Back Set
By Sam Perley
The Charlotte Hornets will round the halfway point of their road trip with a showdown against the red-hot Utah Jazz as they look to snap an 11-game losing streak at Vivint Smart Home Arena starting tonight at 9 p.m. ET.
Utah dropped the Hornets, 119-111, in Charlotte on Nov. 30, with guards Jeremy Lamb (24) Kemba Walker (21) and Tony Parker (20) all finishing with at least 20 points for the hosts. Utah connected on 18-of-40 three-point attempts in the contest (45.0 percent), 10 of which came from reserves Jae Crowder (6) and Kyle Korver (4).
Charlotte will hope Frank Kaminsky’s play (and size) continues to serve a vital role in the second unit after he averaged 11.9 PPG on 45.9% shooting (38.1% from three), 4.5 RPG and 1.8 APG over 15 March outings. Through the team’s loss in Los Angeles on Friday night, Kaminsky was leading all Hornet players in defensive rating (107.7) and net rating (5.1) this month as well (mini. 10 GP).
As evidenced by his first outing against the Hornets, Crowder has settled in nicely with the Jazz after getting dealt to the organization at the trade deadline last season. Utah is 14-5 since the All-Star Break with the Marquette product ranking 10th in the NBA in scoring (12.9 PPG) and tied for third in three-pointers made per game (2.3) off the bench during this stretch.
Known primarily as a defensive team under Head Coach Quin Snyder, the Jazz have been dominating on both ends lately, ranking first in offensive (118.2) and defensive rating (101.1) during its 9-1 stretch. Crowder is a candidate to start with Derrick Favors (back spasms) out, but don’t be surprised to see Kaminsky spend ample time on him as the Hornets look to pick up a big road win in Salt Lake City.
Game Note – Charlotte has not won in Utah since March 1, 2006… Utah (119.1) and Charlotte (117.1) ranked first and second, respectively in the NBA in offensive rating between March 18-30… Jazz PG Dante Exum underwent season-ending knee surgery last Wednesday… PG Raul Neto (concussion) is also questionable for this game.
Classic Fact – Kemba Walker scored a then single-game franchise-record 52 points in a 124-119 double-overtime home win over the Jazz on Jan. 18, 2016. This mark, which was broken by Walker earlier this season with a 60-point outing vs. Philadelphia on Nov. 17, was the most points scored against the Jazz since Seattle’s Ray Allen had 54 on Jan. 12, 2007.