Game On: Hornets @ Jazz

Published: January 2, 2012

Hornets try to get bad taste out of their mouth after last night’s blowout.

Monty looks to get his young team back on track tonight against the Jazz

After a 2-0 start that had Hornets nation abuzz, the team has looked downright awful in its last two contests, particularly on offense. The Hornets have shot just 39% from the field this season and are a putrid 9 of 57 from three on the year. Granted, Eric Gordon has not played in three of the four games, but one man does not an offense make. This team will continue to struggle in the half court all season long, and must turn defense into easy offense if they are going to be legitimate playoff contenders this season.

The Jazz, meanwhile, feature a team with an interesting mix of quality veterans and youth. Everybody seems to be looking for the next OKC (and Hornets fans hope that Gordon, Aminu, and draft picks will enable the Hornets to get there), but don’t overlook the Jazz. Utah has four young pieces in Favors, Kanter, Hayward, and Burks who were all lottery picks either this year or last, and they should have a high pick this year, and possibly two more in 2013(NJN pick).

Utah also has a collection of veterans that could make them a darkhorse for a playoff spot this season if they can jell under head coach Tyrone Corbin. Devin Harris, Paul Milsap, Josh Howard, and Al Jefferson are the top four scorers on this team and have all shown the ability to take over games in recent years. So far this season, Utah has underperformed as they struggle to find the right lineup combinations, but there is too much talent on this team to believe that they won’t figure it out at some point this season.

When the Hornets have the ball:

So far this season, teams have attacked the Jazz on the perimeter and have had a lot of success doing so. 70% of the shots taken against Utah have been jump shots, and remarkably, nearly 50% have gone in. Just for comparison sake, the Jazz also take jump shots about 70% of the time, but they only convert 36% of those shots. What this means is that the Hornets must be patient with their offense, because if they are, they will likely get an open look.

Some bittersweet news for the Hornets involves the shooting guard position. So far this season, Utah has been absolutely decimated at the two guard spot, as they have allowed 24.5 PPG on 56% shooting from opposing shooting guards. A healthy Eric Gordon likely decimates this Utah Jazz backcourt, but instead Marco Belinelli will likely get the start as Gordon continues to rest his bruised knee. Perhaps this match-up can get Belly going, however, and then the Hornets can look forward to a formidible one-two punch when Commissioner Gordon returns.

When the Jazz have the ball:

It is no secret that the Hornets prefer to have their opponents beat them from the outside, and that will be a good strategy for this Jazz team when you take into account the aformentioned low shooting percentage on jump shots. The Jazz, like the Hornets, struggle in the half court and need to turn their defense into offense in order to get easy baskets. The Jazz shoot 53% when they take a shot in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock, and just 36% when they shoot anytime after that. Of course, most shots in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock are due to caused turnovers, long rebounds that lead to fast breaks, or putbacks off of misses.

If the Hornets can get back on defense and keep Utah’s collection of bigs off of the glass, they should have no problem containing this anemic Jazz offense.

Other News and Notes:

– Gordon is listed as a game time decision, but is unlikely to play. Wednesday at home against Philly should be Commissioner Gordon’s return.

– Vegas Zone: The line has stayed at Utah -6.5 all day, but I am more interested in the over/under of 182.5. Personally, I can’t see either team scoring over 90 and I would be all over the under if my bookie wasn’t blocking my calls.

– Look for some more Gustavo tonight, as Monty knows that he has to keep minutes down in this shortened NBA season. Ayon only got garbage time last night, but I could see him getting 8-10 minutes tonight as Monty is curious to see what the rookie has to offer.

– WIPTT’s back in action tonight, as they try to rebound from a tough loss to Minnesota last night. Tonight’s team features 58 year old Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Tony Longoria-Parker, who will try to put the Wolves at 1-4 on this young season.



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