Jazz upend playoff-bound Hornets, 90-78By BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer Monday, Apr 11, 2011
Hornets coach Monty Williams, whose club was trounced by 22 points a night earlier in Memphis, seemed almost mystified by his team’s sudden spate of ineptitude.
“Some of it was indescribable,” Williams said. “You hate it when you just don’t have the energy or the focus that an NBA team should have. Give credit to Utah. They came in focused and didn’t tank it.
“We have to recognize that the hourglass is upside down and time is ticking. We’ve got to get it together in a hurry.”
Paul Millsap(notes) scored 16 points and Gordon Hayward(notes) added 14 to help the Jazz win for only the second time in 12 games, with the other victory coming against the Los Angeles Lakers last week.
“We continue to grow,” Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. “That’s the most encouraging thing is that we’re getting better with the things we’re talking about, especially on the defensive end.”
Chris Paul(notes), who went scoreless for the first time in his career in Sunday’s loss at Memphis, had 15 points. Marco Belinelli(notes), who had 13 points, was the only other starter in double figures for New Orleans, which shot 37.8 percent (28 of 74) while dropping its second straight.
The Hornets (46-35) have slipped to eighth in the Western Conference, a half game behind Memphis (46-34) and 1 1/2 games behind Portland (46-33).
The Grizzlies and Trail Blazers, who each have two regular-season games left, meet in Portland on Tuesday night. The Hornets, who have tiebreakers over both Portland and Memphis, play their regular-season finale in Dallas on Wednesday.
The Hornets were never closer than six points in the second half in scoring their fewest points in a home game this season.
“We’ve got to go to the drawing board,” Paul said. “We’ve got to pick it up because the playoffs is a lot tougher than these last two games were, so we’ve got to find it. … Luckily, we’ve got time. Not too much time, but we’ve got some time. We’ve just got to keep working and make sure we give ourselves a chance every night.”
The Jazz, which shot 55.2 percent (37 of 67) and outscored the Hornets 38-28 in the paint, led by as much as 17 on Millsap’s 6-foot runner in the fourth quarter.
Miles, who’d scored 12 points in his last three games combined, was 6 of 9 from the field, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range.
“I knew I was going to come out of (the slump) once I got a couple clean looks and today they came early,” Miles said. “We’re just playing hard, man. It’s about pride. Even though we’re not making the playoffs, guys want to win games. We’re building for next year and the future, and guys are buying in.”
The final margin might have been more lopsided if the Hornets had not outrebounded Utah 42-32, with 13 offensive rebounds leading to 10 second-chance points.
“We have to do a little bit of soul-searching and get back to Hornets basketball,” Green said. “We’ve just got to get back to playing better defense. That has been our pillar all year long. … Tonight, we let those guys push us around.”
Utah scored the first eight points of the game, with Harris hitting back-to-back 3s, and the Jazz took their first double-digit lead when Hayward scored as he was fouled to make it 21-11.
Miles scored 10 points in the first quarter and his second 3 gave the Jazz a 12-point lead.
When the first quarter ended, Utah was shooting better from 3-point range (4 of 6) than the Hornets were on free throws (3 of 8).
New Orleans briefly trimmed its deficit to 29-26 on Quincy Pondexter’s(notes) 3 early in the second quarter, but the Jazz responded with Hayward’s 21-foot jumper and Favors’ dunk. Utah rebuilt its lead to 12 when Miles scored his 12th point of the half on a short floater before Paul’s free throws made it 47-37 at halftime.
Notes: Former Hornets owner George Shinn attended his first game since selling the club to the NBA last December. After donating $500,000 to the Salvation Army in New Orleans earlier in the day, he sat in his old courtside seats and received a warm ovation when he was introduced to the crowd during the first half. … The Hornets announced their “Believe in Blue” campaign has raised $200,000 to help victims of the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. … The Jazz and Hornets teams split their season series 2-2.