SALT LAKE CITY — The New Orleans Hornets won 11 of their first 13 games by playing stifling defense.
That wasn't the case, for the most part, as the Jazz carved up the Hornets' defense like Thanksgiving turkey on Wednesday night.
The Hornets gave up a season-high 105 points in a 105-87 loss to the Jazz. It was just the second time this season New Orleans allowed more than 100 points in a game.
"We've defended," first-year Hornets coach Monty Williams said before Wednesday's game. "When we lose games, you can look at the film and see the lack of defense for long periods of time. That's been our calling card. We haven't put up 110-120 points. We've been a defensive team."
New Orleans' longest period of soft defense against the Jazz came in the first quarter. Utah shot 68.4 percent in the first period, and forced the Hornets to play catch-up most of the game.
The Jazz only led by one at the end of the first quarter, but they set the tone for a long defensive night for New Orleans with good ball movement, unselfish offense and of course, making shots.
The Hornets lost control of the game by losing control of the basketball. They committed 18 turnovers, which the Jazz turned into 26 points. Utah had 82 possessions, compared to just 69 for New Orleans.
"I thought that was the deciding factor to give up that many possessions," Williams said. "You can't do that on the road. You can't do that at any time especially against a team like that."
Another thing visiting teams can't do on the Jazz's home floor is get pushed around, but New Orleans did just that. Utah was more physical than the Hornets, and that irked Williams and his players after the game.
"Obviously, we've got to get a lot tougher," said Hornets point guard Chris Paul, who had 17 points and nine assists. "This was one of those games where they just beat us up and we can't have that."
The Hornets were expected to be a borderline playoff team before the season began, but have been one of the big surprises of the NBA season so far. They won their first eight games with six of the victories coming against 2010 playoff teams. At 11-3, New Orleans has the league's third-best record behind the Spurs (13-1) and Lakers (12-2).
The main reason for the Hornets' fast start? Defense. The Hornets were tied with the Bucks entering Wednesday's game for fewest points allowed with 91.1 per game. Opponents were shooting just 43.1 percent against them.
The Jazz easily topped the amount of points the Hornets had been allowing and shot a better percentage at 48.8.
Williams said he wasn't particularly pleased with his team's defensive effort.
"I thought we gave up too much in the paint — going for pump fakes, things that we teach," he said. "We've been doing it now for a couple weeks. Now it's coming back to bite us."2 comments on this story
Rebounding has been another strength for the Hornets, but they were also beat on the boards by Utah. The Jazz, who had been outrebounded in their previous six games, had a slight 38-36 rebounding edge over New Orleans.
It was an uncharacteristic night for the Hornets, who have one game left to play on a four-game road trip. They're confident they'll get things fixed.
"It was just one of those situations where we know we played out of character," said New Orleans guard Willie Green. "We got to get back to playing Hornets basketball."