SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – After 50 games of the NBA season, the Utah Jazz have climbed back to the .500 mark.
Lauri Markkanen scored 25 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, as the Jazz beat the cold-shooting Charlotte Hornets 120-102 on Monday night to improve to 25-25 on the season.
The Hornets made only two 3-pointers, both by Terry Rozier, the fewest by an NBA team this season. Charlotte had 16 attempts beyond the arc, shooting 12.5%, while the Jazz made 16 of 40. Utah attempted a franchise-record 29 three-pointers in the first half alone.
Jordan Clarkson scored 18 points and Mike Conley added 14 for the Jazz, who have won three of four.
“Overall just a good solid team win,” said head coach Will Hardy. “I think that’s four quarters of good defense for the most part. I think our team really executed on the defensive end tonight.”
Rozier scored 23 points and Mason Plumlee had 18 for the Hornets, who were trying to win three straight games for the first time this season.
Charlotte’s leading scorer, LaMelo Ball, missed his second game with ankle and wrist soreness. Dennis Smith Jr. had 15 points and nine assists for the Hornets.
Utah led by 10 after three quarters before going on an 18-4 run, punctuated by Walker Kessler’s dunk, to make it 107-83 with 6:07 to play.
“Their record doesn’t say how scrappy they are and how hard they play,” said Kessler, who finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. “So we knew they were very capable. I’m really happy for how the team played. We looked dominant. I couldn’t ask for a better night.”
The Jazz ran the Hornets off the 3-point line and conceded long 2-point jumpers and wild drives to the basket. Meanwhile, the Jazz used crisp passing to find open 3-point shooters and drives through the lane.
Eleven of Utah’s first 15 field goals were 3s, while the Hornets missed their first seven tries from long range. The Jazz led 58-45 at halftime despite having made three fewer field goals.
Talen Horton-Tucker brought the crowd to its feet with a thunderous baseline dunk at the end of the third quarter.
“I really just try to stay aggressive and put as much pressure as I can on the paint to trigger our drive and kick,” Horton-Tucker said. “I’ll sometimes be aggressive myself, just trying to do whatever coach wants me to do. Anything I can do to help our team win, I’m going to try to do.”
Because of injuries, Gordon Hayward played just his fourth game at Utah since spending his first seven seasons with the Jazz. He finished with 11 points.
There was a scary moment in the third quarter as rookie Ochai Agbaji flipped in the air on an acrobatic dunk attempt in the third quarter and landed awkwardly. He returned with in the fourth with tape on his left wrist.
The Jazz next play at Portland Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m.