Three-Point Differential The Deciding Factor In Hornets’ Loss To Utah

All copyrights belong to the NBA

Rozier Leads Team in Scoring for 3rd Straight Game, But Charlotte Goes Ice Cold from Deep

Road games in Utah have been an annual challenge for the Charlotte Hornets and their latest outing in Salt Lake City was a whole harder thanks to an all-around rough shooting performance in Monday night’s 120-102 loss to the hometown Jazz.

Without his starting backcourt running mate LaMelo Ball for the second straight game, Terry Rozier led the Hornets in scoring for the third consecutive outing, finishing with 23 points on 9-of-23 shooting, two 3-pointers, five rebounds, two assists and a steal in 35 minutes. Mason Plumlee was right behind him in the scoring department with 18 points on 5-of-6 shooting (8-of-11 from the free-throw line), a team-high eight rebounds and five assists.

Charlotte failed to convert a single one of its seven first-half 3-point attempts, while the Jazz went 11-of-29 from deep to open up a 58-45 halftime lead. The Hornets made up a little ground in the third quarter, but the Jazz broke away for good thanks to a 21-6 run over the opening seven minutes of the fourth before ending the night with a 16-of-40 clip (40.0%) from distance.

Dennis Smith Jr. (15), Mark Williams (11) and Gordon Hayward (11) had at least 10 points as well for the Hornets, with Smith also dishing out a game-high nine assists and Williams swatting three shots. Charlotte closed the contest having drained a mere 2-of-16 from 3-point range (12.5%), good for new season lows in both makes and attempts and 42 fewer points from behind the arc than Utah. The 3-point total is the lowest by any NBA team since the Boston Celtics had two 3-pointers in a 115-112 double-overtime loss in Washington on Oct. 30, 2021.

“I thought [Utah’s] defense was really good right from the beginning for the whole game,” said Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford afterwards. “Their switching gave us a lot of problems. In the first half, it’s all their drives out of pick-and-rolls are all one-on-one into the paint, inside-out threes. They were shooting spot-ups, which they’re good at.”

When asked about the low volume of 3-point attempts, Clifford responded, “[Utah is] number one in the NBA in allowing threes, so that’s every game for them. Sixteen is still a small number, but they built their defense on taking threes away. We had 66 points in the paint. I felt like we did a good job with the majority of it. We played a lackluster first half and we were lucky to be that close. We had our chances there in the third quarter.”

Added Hayward, “I just think that we feel like we can be better. I think we kind of let them dictate too much on the defensive end. I feel like we didn’t get enough good shots and kind of let the game get away from us at the end of the third going into the fourth. Just frustrated with how we performed.”

Utah snagged its 16th straight head-to-head home win over the Hornets thanks to balanced scoring contributions from Lauri Markkanen (25 points), Jordan Clarkson (18), Mike Conley (14), Walker Kessler (13) and Collin Sexton (11). Charlotte’s losing streak in Utah is currently its longest on the road against a single opponent and began all the way back on March 5, 2007.

The Hornets will now finish their four-game road trip and back-to-back when they face the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, Jan. 24 starting at 9 PM ET. Catch all the action on Bally Sports Southeast and WFNZ 92.7 FM.

Post Game Interviews

Coach Steve Clifford

Gordon Hayward