Key Matchup vs. Utah Jazz: Dwight Howard vs. Rudy Gobert
The Hornets will try to close out their four-game road trip on a positive note as they wrap up the season series with the hometown Utah Jazz on Friday night.
It's been a great start to 2018 for Charlotte center Dwight Howard, who since Jan. 1, is averaging 16.3 points, 13.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks (third in the NBA) over 18 appearances. Having just recently recorded his 700th career double-double on Feb. 4, Howard currently sits fourth overall in the NBA in rebounding (12.6) and seventh in blocks per game right now (1.69; highest mark since 2013-14).
Howard will be lining up against the 7'1" Rudy Gobert, who is slowly finding his stride for the Jazz following a pair of knee injuries in the first half of the season. A French native, Gobert finished fourth in the NBA in rebounding (12.8) and first in blocks (2.64) last season on his way to claiming 2017 NBA All-Defensive First Team and All-NBA Second Team honors.
This impending matchup between Howard and Gobert easily features two of the NBA's top five players at the traditional center position. The Hornets struggled in second-chance scoring on Thursday night in Portland (19-5), meaning Howard and the rest of their frontcourt will need to be very aggressive and physical on the glass in Utah.