Charlotte Hornets wrapup: Friday night’s game vs. Utah Jazz

By Richard Walker

Notes and observations from Friday’s 138-121 Hornets’ home loss to the Utah Jazz that dropped Charlotte to 10-13 overall:

… Charlotte’s injury situation got better and then got worse on the same night one starting guard (Terry Rozier) returned from injury and another starting guard (Devonte’ Graham) left with injury. And starting forward P.J. Washington missed his second straight game due to injury. “I feel bad for our players (and) I feel bad for the injured player,” Hornets coach James Borrego said “But I don’t wallow in it. Nobody’s feeling sorry for us. No excuses. Next man up. That’s the mentality and that’s how we move forward. It’s going to be a wild year – it’s been a wild year already – and I just want our guys to be healthy, be safe and it’s unfortunate when one of our guys goes down. We’ve had a little bit of bad luck here, but it’s a great opportunity for other people to step up.”

… The Hornets started fast against a Utah team that improved its league-best record to 17-5 on Friday night. Charlotte led 24-12 with 4:52 left in the first quarter before the Jazz outscored the Hornets 57-30 the rest of the first half. “We had a good first quarter and we were even with that group for three quarters,” Borrego said. “We lost the second quarter by 17 points and we lost the game by 17 points.”

… Graham had 11 points in 11 minutes before leaving with a left groin injury with 9:19 left in the second quarter. “I don’t have anything on Devonte’ yet,” Borrego said of the injury.

… With a career-high 39 minutes, rookie LaMelo Ball had a career-high 34 points to go with four rebounds, eight assists and no turnovers on a night in which he, Graham, Rozier, Gordon Hayward and Cody Zeller were a first-time starting lineup. “I told the teammates I was going to be a little more aggressive tonight looking for my shot, so whenever I saw daylight, pretty much I just took what the defense was giving me,” Ball said.

… The starting lineup was the sixth starting lineup of the season for the Hornets. The group of Graham, Rozier, Hayward, Washington and Bismack Biyombo has started the most with 12 games. “Yeah, I thought it was good,” Hayward said of the “small ball” lineup. “We got some good looks and defensively, we were getting some stops and rebounds. I mean, that’s the question, is if we can get stops and rebounds with that lineup, especially against a bigger team, which we were doing. That was good. I think we got off to a great start.”

… Hayward added 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, Rozier 15 points and Biyombo 13 for Charlotte.

… Utah was led by Bogan Bogdanovic’s 31 points that came on 10 of 15 overall shooting and seven of 11 3-pointers and Donovan Mitchell’s 30 points.

… Charlotte yielded 100 or more points after the third quarter for the second time this season when it trailed 106-90 entering the fourth quarter; The first time, Philadelphia led 104-90 in its 127-112 win over Jan. 2.

… Ball’s 34 points was the higest for a Hornets’ rookie since Walter Herrman scored 30 points on April 14, 2007.

What’s next: Charlotte hosts Washington on Sunday at 1 p.m. It’s the first meeting of the season against the Southeast Division rival Wizards and is a makeup from a previously-schedule Jan. 20 game; Washington couldn’t play due to COVID-19 protocols.