Hornets-Jazz Preview

The Associated Press

The New Orleans Hornets feel the best way to break out of a shooting slump is to keep hoisting up the ball and eventually the shots will fall.

The cold-shooting Hornets hope to avoid a third straight loss Monday night when they meet the Utah Jazz to wrap up a two-game road trip.

These clubs split the four-game season series in 2010-11 with each team winning once at home and on the road. The Hornets defeated the Jazz 121-117 in overtime on March 24 for just the franchise's eighth win in 30 games in Salt Lake City and putting them in position to win consecutive games in Utah for the first time.

On Sunday, New Orleans (2-2) went 0 for 15 from 3-point range and opened its brief swing with a 96-80 loss to Sacramento. The Hornets are a league-worst 9 for 57 (15.8 percent) from long range this season, and are near the bottom of the NBA in shooting at 39.1 percent.

"We've just got to keep plugging away and knock down shots," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. "That's something we can fix."

Having standout guard Eric Gordon back in the lineup might help - whenever that may be. Gordon, who was acquired in the deal that sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers, missed his third straight game with a bruised knee and is day-to-day.

The Clippers' leader with 106 3-pointers last season, Gordon is 0 for 6 from beyond the arc with his new club.

With Paul on the West Coast and David West now with Indiana, the Hornets are without their top two scorers against Utah last season. They still have Trevor Ariza and Marco Belinelli, who each accounted for 11.3 points per game versus the Jazz in 2010-11.

Ariza had a team-best 17 points while Belinelli was 0 for 7 from 3-point range and finished with six points Sunday.

Utah (1-3) failed to build off its first win of the season, losing 104-89 at San Antonio on Saturday. The Jazz shot 35.2 percent (18 of 51) from the floor and totaled a season-low 11 assists.

"It wasn't a great effort tonight," said Utah coach Tyrone Corbin.

One bright spot for Utah was the return of leading scorer Al Jefferson, who missed Friday's 102-99 home-opening win over Philadelphia with an ankle injury. Jefferson - averaging 14.7 points per game - had 21 and 11 rebounds in 35 minutes versus the Spurs.

"It got to a point where I was running on it real well before the game. That was when I made the decision to play," said Jefferson, who averaged 15.8 points and 8.0 rebounds last season against New Orleans.

While Jefferson's return was a welcome sight, the Jazz hope Paul Millsap can continue his success against the Hornets. He averaged 20.0 points on 64.0 percent shooting, 7.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists over the season series during a breakout 2010-11 campaign.

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