CHARLOTTE (ABC4 Sports) – Talen Horton-Tucker scored a season-high 37 points and had 10 assists and eight rebounds as the Utah Jazz defeated the Charlotte Hornets 119-111 on Saturday night for their second straight win.
Walker Kessler added 17 points and 16 rebounds and Kelly Olynyk had 17 points for the Jazz, who outrebounded the Hornets 60-43. Lauri Markkanen had 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 24 points and Terry Rozier added 22 for the Hornets, who had their two-game win streak snapped.
Utah coach Will Hardy called the 22-year-old Horton-Tucker an “old soul,” adding that he has taken to coaching since joining the Jazz this season and that he loves the Chicago native’s determination.
“He understands what is real and what is not,” Hardy said of Horton-Tucker, a second-round draft pick in 2019. “He understands that so far to date he hasn’t really gotten what he’s wanted in the NBA. He wants to play more. He wants to be in the rotation. He wants to be a key player.”
If he keeps playing like this it will be hard to keep him out of the starting lineup.
Horton-Tucker, who has been pressed into the primary ball-handling role of late because of injuries, dominated the game from the outset. Nearly everything was falling from floaters to mid-range jumpers to 3-pointers and he finished 14 of 24 from the field.
His previous season high was 23 points. He had a career-high 40 last season against Golden State.
Horton-Tucker said he wasn’t surprised by his scoring outburst.
“I’m not trying to be cocky, but I just felt like I could do it,” Horton-Tucker said. “It’s not the only time.”
The Jazz never trailed and took a 58-49 lead into halftime after getting 15 points from Horton-Tucker, including a spin move in the lane that resulted on a one-handed dunk prompting a brief celebration under the basket.
Utah quickly stretched its lead to 20 in the third quarter behind Horton-Tucker, who had 12 points in the third quarter and 10 more in the fourth.
The Hornets entered the fourth quarter down by 16, but closed within seven before Horton-Tucker drove the lane, did a Euro step and got a floater to fall over two defenders after the ball danced on the rim before falling through.
Horton-Tucker added two free throws on Utah’s next possession to push the lead to 11 and the Hornets never mounted another serious threat.
The Hornets had 14 blocks on the night, but coach Steve Clifford said the team’s defensive communication was not good.
“A lot of Horton-Tucker’s stuff looks bad for the guy guarding the ball – but it’s not his fault, the talk’s too late,” Clifford said. “I’m standing right there. Our communication wasn’t nearly what it has been. That’s what leads to it. You make mistakes with good players and they’re going to be at the rim, and that’s what happened.”
Jordan Clarkson (left hand) and Collin Sexton (left hamstring) did not play again.
Utah next takes on the Miami Heat Monday night at 5:30 p.m.