Jazz Ride Ridiculous Wave To Close Out Hornets

Feb 22, 2021, 10:37 PM | Updated: 11:18 pm
Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)...
Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz got back to their winning ways with a 132-110 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.

Fueled by record-breaking three-point shooting, the Jazz used an incredible run over the final 19 minutes of the game to erase a double-digit deficit and run away with the easy victory.

The Jazz were led by Donovan Mitchell who had 23 points but saw three bench players score at least 20 points in one of the more impressive performances by the team this season.

Jazz Wave Of Destruction

For the last month and a half, the Jazz have been beating teams by playing great basketball for basically a full 48 minutes, and when their opponent blinks, the Jazz turn a close game into a blowout.

The Jazz didn’t have that liberty against Charlotte thanks to unusually poor play through the first two and half quarters.

With seven minutes left to play in the third quarter, the Jazz trailed Charlotte 81-70 and had been thoroughly outplayed for the first 29 minutes of the game.

Donovan Mitchell had a particularly rough start to game, scoring 13 points on 4-11 shooting, and had racked up six turnovers in little more than two quarters.

Then, despite the start to the game, the Jazz flipped a switch.

Mitchell started the run when he found Derrick Favors for an easy layup. He then hit a pull-up three-pointer and the Hornets lead slipped from 11 to 6.

Behind two made Joe Ingles three-pointers, a pair of Rudy Gobert free-throws, a Jordan Clarkson free-throw, a Clarkson layup, and a George Niang three, the Jazz turned an 81-70 deficit into a 91-90 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

From there, it was a blitzkrieg.

The Jazz opened the fourth quarter on a 20-2 run over the first 3:28 of game action. The run was fueled by a 14 point run on five consecutive successful possessions that included for made threes.

After one miss, Conley sunk a three, followed by a Niang three, and the Jazz were up 111-93 with 8:32 left to play and the game was over.

In total, over the final 19 minutes, the Jazz outscored Charlotte 62-29. Niang went a perfect 5-5 from the three-point line for 15 points. Ingles scored 12 points on 4-6 shooting from three, Mitchell scored 10 points on 2-3 from deep, and the Jazz knocked down 15 total threes on 24 attempts in just 19 minutes of play.

On the other side of the floor, the Jazz were equally dominant.

The team closed the game holding Charlotte to 29 points on 10-30 shooting. The Hornets connected on just 2-14 three-point attempts and turned the ball over eight times.

Niang and Ingles finished with 21 points apiece, while Clarkson added 20 for the Jazz off the bench, marking the first time in team history the Jazz had three bench plays each score at least 20.

The second unit combined for 19 made threes, the most in NBA history from a collection of bench players.

It was as impressive of a run as the Jazz have had so far this season, and it came on the heels of one of the worst stretches of basketball the Jazz have played all season.

Jazz Hit A Record 28 Threes

The Jazz set their franchise-record for made threes earlier this month against the Hornets when they made 26 in Charlotte. Then, again, against the same Hornets team, the Jazz hit 28 threes to set a new franchise record.

This was not an accident, as the Hornets allow their opponents to shoot 41 threes per game which is tied with the Miami Heat for the worst in the NBA.

They also allow opponents to make 37 percent of their threes, which is just outside the bottom third in the league.

The Jazz clearly knew this, as they opened the game by attempting seven threes before taking their first two-point attempt with 6:39 left in the first quarter.

During the game, the Jazz became the quickest team to hit 500 threes in a season, taking just 31 games to do so.

For reference, it took the franchise 7 and a half seasons to make their first 500 threes after the addition of the three-point line.

The Jazz went 33 seasons before finally hitting 500 threes in a single season when it happened in 2012-13.

While the rest of the NBA is trending in this direction, and in time, every team will shoot and outshoot this pace, it’s fair to say they are significantly ahead of the curve on three-point shooting, and it might be a while before other teams catch up.

Charlotte Deserves Credit For Rebuild

The Hornets deserve a ton of credit for their rebuild into one of the league’s most exciting young roster.

In the summer of 2019, Kemba Walker was becoming a free-agent and wanted to sign a supermax contract. The Hornets were a borderline playoff team with Walker on the roster, and no real way of improving the roster around him.

To make matters worse, Charlotte was hosting the All-Star game just after the trade deadline, which would have made it extremely difficult for the Hornets to trade him to an opposing team before letting him walk in free-agency that upcoming summer.

So the Hornets held onto Walker, knowing they weren’t planning on re-signing him and had faith they could pull a rabbit out of their hat to save their franchise.

As it turns out, general manager Mitch Kupchak did exactly that.

Instead of letting Walker leave for nothing, they traded him to the Boston Celtics for Terry Rozier, and signed the young guard to a 3-year, $55 million deal. It seemed like a high-price at the time, but Rozier is now averaging 21 points, four rebounds, and three assists and looks to be worth every penny.

Then, when nobody else wanted to sign Gordon Hayward to a max contract, they gave him four years and $120 million. Now, Hayward is having a career-season averaging 21.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 3.7 assists.

Finally, and this one required a bit of luck, but they had the best player in the 2020 draft fall to them, despite entering the lottery with the eighth-best odds of earning a top-three pick.

Charlotte moved up from the eighth spot in the lottery to third, then somewhat inexplicably saw both the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors pass on LaMelo Ball for far more unproven players with the top two picks.

Both Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman have shown glimpses of being high-level NBA players, but nothing close to what Ball has brought to the Hornets.

To date, Ball is averaging 14.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 6.1 assists and is already one of the most exciting players in the NBA. He’s single-handedly given the Hornets a recognizable culture, and one his teammates clearly believe in.

Supermax contracts often put teams in bad situations, especially bad teams, who feel like if they lose their only star they’ll never recover, and so they overpay and end up in financial purgatory.

Charlotte avoided that mistake with Walker who has since struggled in Boston, and now the Hornets look poised to make the playoffs.

It’s a difficult model for other teams to replicate, as it required some lottery luck, but the Hornets didn’t get entrapped by having to sign a supermax player, and it’s a worthwhile study for future rebuilding franchises.

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