Hornets 94, Jazz 83
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)—Utah coach Jerry Sloan did not think a couple of key injuries were a reason for the Jazz to quit trying.
“Forget about the guys being hurt,” Sloan said. “If we had played hard and played with determination and we lost the game, I could live with that. I can’t live with what I saw tonight on a consistent basis.”
Without Boozer and Kirilenko, the Jazz lacked the firepower to get close to their 102.6-point average and trailed throughout the game. But Sloan was most displeased with a perceived lack of effort by his team.
“They shouldn’t have any trouble running,” Sloan said. “They beat us down the court for layups. They got offensive rebounds a couple times when we didn’t know where the ball was.”
Boozer didn’t return after knocking knees with New Orleans’ Tyson Chandler as Chandler went up to catch a lob with 8:11 left in the first quarter. A team spokesman said X-rays on Boozer’s knee were negative and he would be re-evaluated after the team returned to Utah.
Desmond Mason added 20 points, Devin Brown scored 13 and David West had 11 for the Hornets, who have won their last five home games. Chandler grabbed 15 rebounds and matched his career high with seven blocks as the Hornets had a season-high 11 blocked shots.
The Hornets, who also won Friday night in New Orleans, continue a five-game, two-city homestand with three more games in Oklahoma City this week. They continue to play without starters Chris Paul (sprained right ankle) and Peja Stojakovic (back surgery).
“We’ve got to come out night in and night out and give great efforts like this,” Chandler said.
The Jazz, who are 16-5 at home, fell to 13-11 on the road and 6-7 when playing away games against Western Conference opponents.
“We just need to take that same intensity on the road,” Williams said. “You use the fans’ energy and things like that to help motivate you at home. We’ve got to find that type of motivation on the road.”
Utah backup center Jarron Collins left in the second quarter to get five stitches on his upper lip, but returned after halftime.
Boozer came out during a run of six straight Utah points, but the Hornets bounced back by scoring eight in a row to take an 18-8 lead on West’s layup off an offensive rebound and nifty pass from Chandler. New Orleans led by as many as 11 before taking a 41-34 lead into halftime.
“We didn’t really start out good anyway with Carlos in there,” Williams said. “He’s definitely a big part of our offense. I’m not going to deny that. He’s definitely our one really true low-post presence.
“We’ve got to find somebody to step up. We don’t know how long he’s going to be out.”
Williams said even if Boozer’s absence affected the offense, “there’s no excuse for it.”
“If you can’t put that out effort (except) only just in big games, there aren’t going to be many big games. We’re not going to be in the playoffs. That’s the bottom line,” Sloan said. “Every game should be a big game for a professional athlete.”
Utah closed to 46-44 when Millsap finished a 10-3 run with a layup at the right block, but the Hornets charged back with seven straight points—including five from West.
It was never closer than six after that.
A six-point burst, capped by Jackson’s runner in the lane, gave the Hornets a 67-55 lead at the end of the third quarter.
The Jazz used a 9-2 run to get within 80-74 on Williams’ driving layup, but Rasual Butler answered with a 3-pointer for New Orleans and the lead was back at 11 after Jackson’s 3 with 1:45 left.
Jackson added six more free throws down the stretch to keep the Hornets easily in control.
Paul, who has missed the past month, is expected to return to practice on Tuesday. … Sloan had no prognosis for when Kirilenko might return. … The Jazz were the first team to benefit from the Ford Center’s newly upgraded visitors locker rooms. The home locker room was redone earlier in the season. … The Hornets were swept the last time they played four consecutive games in Oklahoma City.