In an extremely disappointing performance, the Utah Jazz's postseason hopes took a huge blow.
The Jazz (31-29) couldn't get the job done and lost to the New Orleans Hornets, 96-85, on Friday. It's the second time this season the Jazz have lost to the below-.500 Hornets (17-42) in New Orleans.
Guards: After his stellar game vs. Houston, Gordon Hayward struggled mightily Friday, managing just eight points and five assists. Meanwhile, Devin Harris was passive and seemed reluctant to shoot. He did hand out eight assists. Defensively was where the guards had the most difficulties, as New Orleans counterparts Eric Gordon and Greivis Vasquez torched them for 36 points and 12 assists.
Alec Burks was solid off the bench, tallying nine points in 20 high-energy minutes. Jamaal Tinsley was OK, but added just two points in 21 minutes. GRADE: C-
Forwards: Questionable prior to the game, Paul Millsap’s play spoke volumes. Battling through pain, the warrior finished with 27 points and eight boards. He also held Hornets forward Jason Smith to just eight points.
Utah's DeMarre Carroll was a non-factor in 15 scoreless minutes, while his man, Al-Farouq Aminu, contributed 11 points and seven rebounds for the Hornets. Derrick Favors was again a big factor, both offensively and defensively. He was relentless on the glass, grabbing 13 rebounds to go with 12 points. GRADE: B+
Centers: Al Jefferson was fantastic offensively, getting dunk after dunk on his way to 19 points. His rebounding (just three) and defense, on the other hand, were lacking as Chris Kaman was able to put 19 points of his own on the board. Enes Kanter had five points in 13 minutes. GRADE: C+
Bench: Favors and Burks played well, helping the Jazz outscore the New Orleans bench 28-22. Tinsley tried to push the pace. The Hornets reserves were fairly nondescript but had a few big baskets in the fourth quarter that helped turn the tide. GRADE: C
Overall: With every game increasing in importance, the Utah Jazz lost perhaps the easiest remaining game on their schedule. They played with little sense of urgency, allowing the game to remain close entering the fourth quarter. And the rest was history as New Orleans crushed Utah 23-15 in the closing 12 minutes. GRADE: D+
David Smith is providing instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage this season. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.