Lauri Markkanen Scores 33, Jazz Pull Off 134-122 Win Against Hornets

Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz, Charlotte Hornets, NBA News
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Lauri Markkanen’s standout performance of 33 points and 12 rebounds propelled the Utah Jazz to a 134-122 victory over the Charlotte Hornets during Saturday’s NBA action, marking their 11th win in the last 15 games.

Collin Sexton contributed significantly with 24 points and 13 assists, playing a crucial role in the Jazz’s efficient shooting night, where they hit 56% from the field and drained 17 three-pointers. This offensive surge helped Utah establish a substantial 36-point lead in the third quarter despite a late rally from Charlotte.

P.J. Washington of the Hornets matched his career-high with 43 points, scoring 31 in the second half, while Nick Richards achieved a personal best with 26 points and 13 rebounds. Despite their efforts, the Hornets’ record fell to 10-34.

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz, Brandon Miller, Charlotte Hornets Updates

Utah’s explosive start was highlighted in the first quarter, where they surged to a 47-24 lead, largely thanks to Markkanen and Sexton’s combined 35 points and seven 3-pointers. The Jazz’s 18 of 26 field goal shooting in the first period set the tone for the game, despite it being the most points the Hornets have ever conceded in a first quarter.

The Jazz continued their dominance into the second quarter, exploiting the Hornets’ weaknesses with easy layups and open 3-pointers while also controlling the rebounding battle.

Jazz coach Will Hardy praised his team’s first-half offensive execution but expressed concerns about their second-half performance, particularly in isolation plays and defensive lapses in guarding Washington, who excelled from the three-point line.

“Offensively, that first half, with 25 assists, I don’t envision us playing better than that,” Hardy said. “That was kind of the ideal 24 minutes for us offensively.

“Then we started playing a lot of iso ball, a lot of our decisions were late and we had a lot of turnovers,” Hardy explained. “And we did a horrible job of running P.J. Washington off the line. He got away from us in our zone, and I thought the recognition of the players in the back (of the zone) was atrocious tonight, and that’s something that we have to work on.”

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz, Brandon Miller, Charlotte Hornets Updates

Charlotte’s comeback attempt in the second half, spearheaded by Washington’s sharpshooting, narrowed the gap significantly, cutting down the Jazz’s lead to just seven points in the final minute. However, Sexton’s key basket in the closing seconds secured the win for Utah.

This victory was crucial for the Jazz, who have been striving to stay above .500 this season consistently. Sexton highlighted the team’s growing momentum and passion as key to their recent successes.

“I feel like you can tell how much passion we are playing with,” Sexton said. “At the end of the day, no matter who is scoring and making the plays, I feel like everyone is excited. All of us screaming and yelling, very excited, and I feel like that is what is going to keep this team together.”

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz, Brandon Miller, Charlotte Hornets Updates

The Hornets, having a challenging weekend with a significant loss to Houston and adjusting to life without Terry Rozier, who was recently traded to Miami, faced additional setbacks with the absence of three starters, including LaMelo Ball.

Charlotte’s rebounding struggles were evident, as they were significantly outrebounded and allowed the Jazz to grab 17 offensive boards. Hornets coach Steve Clifford acknowledged the impact of Utah’s offensive rebounding, especially in critical moments of the fourth quarter.

“They actually hammered us,” Clifford said. “They had three huge ones. If we get rebounds in the fourth quarter, we’re going to have chances to get that lead to two possessions, so not very good.”

Looking forward, the Jazz are set to face the Brooklyn Nets, while the Hornets will host the New York Knicks, both games scheduled for Monday night.

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