There must be something about ESPN’s cameras that spooks the Hornets. With a national television audience looking on, the Bees started out strong and then ground to a halt, while the Utah Jazz dominated the boards and the charity stripe, winning entirely too easily, 108-94.
The Hornets had opened up an 11-2 lead over the Jazz in the first quarter, but that didn’t last, and while the Hornets were still up 19-15 after the first stanza, Utah opened the floodgates, winning the next three quarters and their 40th game of the year. Center Mehmet Okur dropped in 28 points; sophomore guard Deron Williams contributed 20, and Carlos Boozer added a double-double, 17 points and 12 boards. The Jazz outrebounded the Hornets, 47-37.
Tyson Chandler had a double-double before the first half ended; he wound up with 20 points and 19 boards. Chris Paul also DDed: 14 points, 10 assists. And all five starters scored in double figures, though once again it didn’t much matter. The Hornets racked up 29 personal fouls; the Jazz got 31 points at the free-throw line, versus only 14 for the Bees.
And after this, things get harder: on the road, against the Nuggets, the Suns, and these same Jazz. (“This” same Jazz?)