Before Wednesday’s game, Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder noted Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker’s special ability to suddenly stop and start off the dribble.
In the fourth quarter, Walker demonstrated precisely that ability, hitting the brakes on a drive that left Jazz guard Shelvin Mack in the distance. Walker nailed a mid-range jump shot that helped push the Hornets to a 104-98 home victory.
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The Hornets improved to 6-1, tying the Cleveland Cavaliers for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Walker finished with 21 points, while power forward Marvin Williams added 19.
The Jazz got a 29-point performance from Gordon Hayward.
The Hornets complete a three-game home stand Friday night against the Toronto Raptors before Sunday’s afternoon game in Cleveland.
Three who mattered
Marvin Williams: He made four of his first five 3-point attempts.
Gordon Hayward: The Jazz small forward carried his team in the first half with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
Marco Belinelli: He shot well and came off the bench to give Nic Batum a long break.
▪ A factor in the Hornets’ 5-1 start entering Wednesday’s game: Coach Steve Clifford didn’t anticipate his team being as good offensively (105.3 points per game) as they have been early.
▪ Small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist played Wednesday after leaving Monday’s victory over the Indiana Pacers with a sore lower back. Clifford said he planned to monitor Kidd-Gilchrist closely to avoid aggravating that injury.
▪ The Hornets entered Wednesday’s game second in the NBA in defensive efficiency, allowing 94.1 points per 100 possessions.
▪ Hornets forward Frank Kaminsky played Wednesday after missing Tuesday’s practice with an illness.
▪ The Hornets’ first-half defense was poor, particularly around the rim. Making five 3-pointers before halftime and getting to the foul line 15 times kept the deficit to seven.
▪ Center Roy Hibbert missed his fifth consecutive game with a sore right knee. Clifford said “hopefully” Hibbert will play Friday versus the Toronto Raptors.
▪ The Jazz played without starting point guard George Hill, who has a sprained right thumb.
▪ Former Charlotte Bobcat Boris Diaw, now with the Jazz, missed Wednesday’s game with a right leg contusion.
B+ OFFENSE: They did a good job the entire game of getting to the foul line.
C DEFENSE: The Jazz scored far too many points in the lane.
B+ COACHING: Steve Clifford got strong minutes from the bench in the span when the Hornets took back the lead.
Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, @rick_bonnell