Game On: Jazz @ Hornets

Published: November 28, 2012

The Utah Jazz make their second and final trip to New Orleans as the Hornets aim for the same outcome as the two teams’ first meeting, when they recorded their first win of the season.

Before the first meeting of the season between these two teams, Jason noted that the two biggest keys to victory for the Hornets were to have their front court make up for the talent disadvantage in the back court and to win the turnover battle. As it turns out, that Jason is a smart man; the Hornets’ front court accounted for 52 of the team’s 88 points despite Davis leaving with a mild concussion after just 14 minutes, and New Orleans committed just 12 turnovers compared to Utah’s 14.

With the results of one game between these two teams at our disposal, we can make a much better prediction of what it will take to win this next one tonight. Here are my three keys to the game:

1) Keep Al Jefferson out of his comfort zone. Lopez did some of his finest defensive work of the season against Jefferson back in early November, limiting the Utah center to just 10 points on 13 field goal attempts and zero free throw attempts. Jefferson is coming off of a season high 28 points on 10-15 shooting in Denver on Monday night, so Lopez will have his work cut out for him.

2) Box out on defense and limit Utah offensive rebounds. The Jazz boast the NBA’s second highest offensive rebound rate at 32.1%, led by Derrick Favors’ 16.1% mark, placing him in the top 10 individually in the NBA among qualifying players. The Jazz notched an ORR of 34.8% in their first game against the Hornets, led (unsurprisingly) by Favors at 22.7%. If New Orleans surrenders offensive rebounding numbers like those again tonight, they probably won’t be as lucky.

UPDATE (6 PM) –  Monty Williams mentioned to the media before the game that “Utah does some tactical things on the offensive boards, some legal and some (laughing) not so legal, but you have to play through it because they play for 48 minutes.” Suffice it to say that the Hornets have their work cut out for them keeping the Jazz off of the offensive glass.

3) Get Ryan Anderson shooting and the guards attacking early. In the two teams’ first meeting, Al-Farouq Aminu and Robin Lopez made a combined 16 out of 26 field goal attempts, combining to outscore the Jazz’s entire front court rotation of Millsap, Jefferson, Favors, and Kanter. Something tells me that we would be somewhat foolish to expect numbers like that from them again, so those points will have to come from somewhere else. Anderson made 5 out of 9 3-point attempts against the Jazz the first time around, so something similar would be ideal.

In the back court, Foye is Utah’s only respectable guard defensively; Tinsley is 34 and has lost more than a step on defense, and Hayward has trouble staying in front of guards as well. If Rivers can avoid Foye and instead get Hayward or Tinsley defending him, he needs to use his quick first step to attack and either draw contact at the rim or kick it out to shooters around the perimeter. Austin could be poised to have another nice game if the match-ups unfold in his favor.


The Jazz is one of the few teams that may not be able to seriously take advantage of the Hornets’ recent inability to defend the 3-point line especially if Mo Williams sits out tonight (gametime decision with a sprained right foot). Randy Foye is shooting a stellar 44.9% from beyond the arc, but Hayward has struggled from long range to this point and there are no other Utah players who shoot the long ball particularly well. If this expectation holds true and if New Orleans can succeed in the three keys listed above, I fully expect a win tonight.

UPDATE (6PM) – Mo Williams will not play tonight, remaining sidelined with his sprained foot. DeMarre Carroll, who was also a gametime decision with a bruised left shoulder, will be available.

I’ll be filling in for Joe at the Arena for the game tonight, so if you have any questions for anyone, leave them here and I’ll do my best to get them answered.



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