Jazz 108, Hornets 94
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)—Mehmet Okur sees Utah’s recent success on the road as a promising sign for the Jazz come playoff time.
It was the fourth straight road win for the Jazz, equaling their longest streak away from home this season. Utah has won eight of its last 10 road games after starting the season 10-10 outside Salt Lake City.
“We should play playoff basketball night in and night out. That’s how we’ve got to play,” Okur said. “In the playoffs, you’ve got to play harder. That’s how we’ve got to play out there.”
“It takes some time to learn how to win on the road, how to be really good on the road,” Jazz guard Derek Fisher said. “I think as the season’s gone on, we’ve gotten a chance to get to know each other a lot more as teammates, we’re trusting each other a lot more offensively, we’re making some good adjustments defensively.”
That was the case Sunday night, as the Jazz overcame a 10-point deficit in a victory for the 14th time this season. No NBA team has done that as many times.
“I think we’re starting to get that belief in yourself and your team that you need in order to be really good,” Fisher said. “We’ve gone out on the road and beat some good teams in the last few weeks, and we’ve protected our home court as well.”
Overall, the Jazz have won 11 of their last 13 games.
Tyson Chandler had a season-high 20 points and 19 rebounds for New Orleans, which has lost three of its last four games. Six Hornets players scored in double figures, including Desmond Mason with 17 and Chris Paul with 14 points and 13 assists.
“They outplayed us. They came out and knew exactly what they wanted to do during this basketball game and we didn’t,” said Hornets forward David West, who had 10 points. “We were all over the place.
After a slow start, the Jazz made 20-of-32 shots (62.5 percent) in the second half, when they scored 62 points—one shy of the most given up by the Hornets in a half this season.
Williams hit 3-pointers to start and finish a 13-5 run that gave Utah a 62-46 lead with 6:22 remaining in the third quarter. Boozer added a three-point play during the run, and the other four points came from the foul line as the Jazz got the Hornets into the bonus early.
The lead reached as many as 17 before New Orleans came back with a 10-2 run that featured five points from Paul to get within 70-62. Bobby Jackson’s 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter moved the Hornets within 77-71, but Utah scored nine of the next 10 points and Okur drilled a 26-foot 3-pointer to make it 86-72.
The Hornets were never closer than 12 after that.
“It feels good right now,” Okur said. “We’re rolling and everybody feels good about that. Everybody’s playing our type of basketball and doing their best.”
Utah had a 47-37 rebounding advantage and overcame a 56-32 scoring deficit in the paint.
New Orleans opened a 15-5 lead on back-to-back two-handed jams by Chandler, then missed its next 11 shots to allow Utah to tie the game before Chandler broke the drought with yet another dunk.
Utah claimed the lead for good with a 9-0 run in the second quarter, capped by seven straight points from Okur. His two-handed dunk on a fast break put the Jazz up 40-31.
Utah led 44-37 at halftime.
“We jumped on them early and they came out after that and set the tone on us,” West said. “They really just did what they wanted and played their game, and we just couldn’t adjust to it.”
The Jazz are 14-0 when leading after three quarters on the road. … Hornets F Rasual Butler, shooting only 32 percent (47-for-147) in his last 20 games, sat out for the first time in 60 games this season. … Former Oklahoma defensive tackles Tommie Harris and Dusty Dvoracek, both with the NFC champion Chicago Bears, attended the game. … After holding opponents to 43.9 percent shooting before the All-Star game, the Hornets allowed their first six opponents to shoot 50 percent and average 101.5 points. “We’re just not defending like we did prior to the All-Star weekend. We’ve come back and we’ve gotten softer defensively,” coach Byron Scott said. “At times we get up and pressure, but we can’t seem to sustain it.”