Horton-Tucker Lifts Jazz Past Hornets As Markkanen Struggles

Mar 11, 2023, 8:19 PM | Updated: Mar 13, 2023, 1:30 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – Talen Horton-Tucker had his best game of the season as he carried the Utah Jazz past the Charlotte Hornets.

The fourth-year guard scored a season-high 37 points on 14-24 shooting while adding 10 assists and grabbing eight rebounds in the win.

With the win, the Jazz moved to 2-3 to open their six-game road trip.

Horton-Tucker Dominates Hornets

Horton-Tucker didn’t just have his best game as a Jazzman, he had arguably the most imposing game by any player against an opponent this season.

After a quiet four-point first quarter, Horton-Tucker took over the game on the offensive end scoring 11 points in the second, 12 in the third, and 10 in the fourth.

The first-year Jazzman got downhill against the lackadaisical Hornets perimeter defense, attacking the rim and finishing well at the basket.

Of his season-high 24 field goal tries, the majority came inside the paint where he converted 11-18 attempts.

“I know I hit a lot of shots tonight,” Horton-Tucker said. “Just being able to stay consistent with that would be good.”

The former Los Angeles Lakers guard balanced that aggressiveness at the rim by finding his Jazz teammates for easy baskets when he drew an extra Charlotte defender.

“He has some real physical gifts that were on display tonight driving the ball downhill,” Will Hardy said. “He had his best game of mixing attacking to score and attacking to find his teammates.”

Perhaps most important was Horton-Tucker’s ball security against Charlotte.

The 22-year-old committed just three turnovers despite dishing out 10 assists as the Jazz’s primary ball handler against the Hornets.

The Iowa State product has dabbled in point guard duties throughout the season, but his tendency to throw the ball away makes it difficult to rely on him in crucial moments.

If Horton-Tucker can channel Saturday’s high-efficiency shot chart against the future opponents, and continue to hold onto the ball, he can be a difference-maker in the Jazz rotation.

Markkanen Has Worst Night Of The Year

Though he recorded a 13-point, 13-rebound double-double, Lauri Markkanen likely had his worst game of the season against Charlotte.

The All-Star forward shot a miserable 3-22 from the floor including 1-9 from three as he struggled to find a rhythm against the length of the Pelicans’ frontcourt defenders.

“I thought Lauri played a good game in terms of the shots he was taking, the looks he was getting, and the attacking that he was doing,” Hardy said. “He just didn’t convert many.”

Markkanen’s 13 percent shooting night was by far his least efficient of the season, trouncing his three 4-13 shooting performances earlier in the year.

Despite the struggles, Markkanen’s persistence are a sign of his evolution into a true number-one option on a roster.

Unlike previous seasons when the Finnish forward may have passed up looks after a difficult 1-5 shooting performance in the first quarter, Markkanen continued to hunt shots throughout the night.

Kobe Bryant famously told documentary filmmaker Gotham Chopra “I would go 0-30 (shooting) before I would go 0-9,” highlighting his unwillingness to let a poor performance shake his confidence.

Whereas in years past Markkanen might have faded after a proverbial 0-9 start, his 3-22 performance against Charlotte was a bad night, but it wasn’t a bad sign.

Utah Jazz Next Game

The Utah Jazz and Miami Heat will tip off at 5:30 pm MT on Monday. The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. It can also be streamed on DirecTV Stream and FuboTV.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Horton-Tucker Lifts Jazz Past Hornets As Markkanen Struggles