Gordon Hayward was on the bench, in the middle of what looked like a third straight frustrating outing when he heard the thud of Marvin Williams’ head hitting the far end of the court.
Williams had been Utah’s leading scorer to that point, but left with a concussion late in the third quarter. Hayward checked back in soon after and burst out of his recent slump in time to head off New Orleans’ comeback attempt, scoring 13 of his 15 points in the final quarter to seal the Jazz’s 96-84 victory over the Hornets on Wednesday night.
“I started to hit some shots, which was good. More importantly we kind of pulled away from them a little bit as a team and we started this road trip off right,” said Hayward, who scored 12 points combined in his previous two games. “It just kind of came to me. I was able to step up and knock some big shots down. I haven’t hit those in the past three games so it’s good for me to finally knock down some shots.”
Al Jefferson had 19 points, scoring 13 in the first half of what often looked like a sloppy and disjointed game, with each team committing more than 15 turnovers.
Robin Lopez and Greivis Vasquez each scored 18 points for New Orleans, which has lost eight of nine. Brian Roberts added 11 points. But the Hornets, who defeated Utah in an earlier meeting this season, struggled from 3-point range this time, going 5 of 21.
“We looked like a young team,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said. “Some of our young guys were making mistakes where they knew it when they made it and when the coaches talked to them. That is part of this process.”
Utah outshot the Hornets 49.2 percent (31 of 63) to 42.5 percent (31 of 73) and outscored the Hornets 28-17 from the free throw line, more than compensating for New Orleans’ 44-38 scoring edge in the paint. Millsap was 10 of 12 from the foul line.
The Jazz began to take command in the third quarter, methodically building a double-digit lead while the Hornets struggled from the field. New Orleans made only five of 14 shots in the period, missing all five 3-point attempts, while Utah made 10 of 17 shots (59 percent).Still the Jazz continued to pull away, thanks to Kanter’s three-point play and inside basket, the second of which put Utah up 72-56 heading into the final quarter.
“We lost the game in the third quarter,” Vasquez said. “We didn’t execute and they outscored us 31-17.
“We cannot afford to lose like we did,” he added. “We are much better than what we showed tonight.”
That proved too much for New Orleans to overcome, despite a 13-4 run to start the fourth quarter which narrowed the score to 76-69.
NOTES: Hornets rookie Anthony Davis (left ankle) missed his sixth-straight game and Monty Williams said before tip-off that he did not expect Davis back for Saturday night’s home game against Oklahoma City, either. ... Utah was without Mo Williams (right foot) for a third straight game, but Corbin said he expects Williams to be back Friday night at Oklahoma City. As for Williams’ head injury, it was too early to tell. “Hopefully, he is fine,” Corbin said. ... Utah has won five of six games. ...The Hornets’ 3-point woes came two nights after making 15 of 25 3-point attempts in a road victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. ... Lopez did not block a shot for the first time this season.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)