Jazz-Hornets preview

The Utah Jazz really need this one.

And the New Orleans Hornets might just give it away.

Going into tonight’s game at EnergySolutions Arena, the Jazz (39-37) are desperate for wins as the chase the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Fortunately for them, the Hornets (26-49) haven’t won a road game since beating the Pistons on Feb. 11.

Since then they’ve lost seven straight on the road, including 98-88 loss at Golden State on Wednesday.

That same night, the Jazz suffered a home loss to the Nuggets, snapping a five-game winning streak. The loss also knocked them out of the No. 8 spot in the West standings.

With just six games remaining, Utah can’t afford to take anyone lightly … including the Hornets.

“It’s very important, it’s a must win,” Jazz point guard Mo Williams said said.

New Orleans is in last place in the Southwest Division standings and No. 14 of 15 in the Western Conference.

Williams said the Jazz are wary of the Hornets because they’ve got nothing to lose.

“When you face teams like that, young teams trying to find themselves — especially at the end of the year — that’s when they usually pick up most of their wins,” he said. “Teams take them for granted, for one; and they start to play better because they’ve got a whole season under their belt.”

The Jazz are 28-10 at home this season. The Hornets are just 10-26 on the road.

Utah averages 98.6 points per game, while allowing 98.9. Meanwhile, New Orleans averages just 94.1 points, while allowing 97.6.

Four of the Hornets’ starting five averages double figures, including fourth-year guard Eric Gordon, who averages 16.8 points and 3.1 assists.

The point guard battle between Williams and the Hornets’ Greivis Vasquez should be one to watch.

Williams averages 12.5 points and 6.4 assists per game. On Monday, he turned in a 6-for-7 performance behind the 3-point line in a 112-102 victory over Portland.

Vasquez averages 14.1 points and 9.2 assists. He scored 15 points and had nine assists in the loss to Golden State.

“They’re very dangerous if you underestimate them,” Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said.

Gordon Hayward scored went 3-for-6 from 3-point territory and finished with a game-high 18 points in the Jazz’s loss to Denver.

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About Jim Burton

Jim Burton has worked for the Standard-Examiner since 1991. He has covered everything from the preps to Utah, BYU, Weber State and the Ogden Raptors. Currently he is the Standard's Utah Jazz beatwriter and its sports columnist.
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