Utah Jazz: Bad luck strikes in loss to Hornets, Jazz falter on the road
NEW ORLEANS — The new ownership of the New Orleans Hornets talked about trying to get the nickname Jazz back from Utah last season.
That bid was unsuccessful.
Utah might be partly responsible if New Orleans ditches its current moniker to be called the Voodoo, as some have suggested.
The Jazz — of the basketball variety — keep experiencing bad luck in the Bayou. Friday night's 88-86 loss to New Orleans — Utah's first road game and setback of the new 2012-13 season — included several mishaps, misfortunes and a third consecutive loss on this court.
The biggest bit of bad luck happened in the final seconds, leading to Greivis Vasquez's game-winning bucket with 1.3 seconds left.
"It was tough. Down the stretch, just miscommunication on a couple of plays, I thought that hurt us," Jazz point guard Mo Williams said. "You've got to give them credit. They played hard. They stayed the course, definitely tough."
Definitely tough is an apt description of how the Jazz (1-1) started a rough road stretch, which includes eight of 10 games away from Utah. Falling to a team not considered to be a playoff contender certainly isn't how the Jazz hoped to amend their ways after going 11-22 on the road last season.
Up next: the Spurs tonight at the AT&T Center.
"We've got to be able to bring our own energy. We get another test (tonight) at it, which is a good thing about the NBA," Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hayward said. "We can't dwell on this one. We've got to go (play) a good team in San Antonio (tonight) and get the W."
For the Jazz, Friday's loss was a wasted opportunity.
For one thing, Utah failed to take advantage of another strong bench contribution from newcomer Randy Foye. The 6-4 shooting guard led all scorers with 20 points.
That only seemed to make the loss sting worse for the offseason free-agent acquisition.
"I'm just really upset that we weren't able to close the game out," said Foye, who went 4-for-7 from 3-point land and added four rebounds and two blocked shots. "We struggled the whole game. We didn’t play our best basketball, but we still had a chance at the end."
Also big was the fact the Jazz didn't capitalize on the absence of No. 1 pick Anthony Davis, who missed the second half and had to be tested for a concussion after being hit in the temple by teammate Austin Rivers.
Defensively, the Jazz struggled to contain Hornets' sharpshooter Ryan Anderson, who had 19 points with a 5-for-9 3-point outing. Utah also had its hands full against 7-foot center Robin Lopez, who also had 19 points.
Lopez also helped clog up the middle, forcing the Jazz to fire away from outside (28 3-point attempts) and shoot just 41.2 percent from the field.
"It's a tough loss, but it's not the end of the world for us," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We didn't play our best basketball, but you have to give them a lot of credit. They played hard. We knew they would."
Unfortunately for the Jazz, they inadvertently set the best pick of the night for the Hornets (1-1).
The play allowed yet another game to slip away from them at New Orleans Arena, where they fell both times to a 21-win team last season.
After colliding with Mo Williams during a defensive switch in the final seconds, Hayward tripped and accidentally allowed Vasquez a near-clear path for a go-ahead drive.
That moment (black magic maybe?) proved to be the game-winner after Williams' buzzer-beating heave clanged off the rim.
"We were trying to switch everything there at the end," Hayward explained. "I just slipped and fell and he just drove around me, hit a tough shot. It can't come down to that, though. We should have put them away earlier. We've just got to be better."
For a brief period, it seemed like the Jazz were on the verge of replicating some Miami magic. Paul Millsap hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 7.1 seconds to go.
That set up a big finish for the small-but-rowdy crowd of 14,147.
Five Jazz players hit double figures, led by Foye. But Millsap only had 11, Al Jefferson contributed just 10 on 5-for-13 shooting and Marvin Williams had a mere five points after his 21-point Jazz debut.
Mo Williams scored 16 points, but he missed 10 of 16 shots and dished out only four assists with two turnovers.
NOTES: The Jazz's 10-for-28 night from 3-point range was a franchise-high for a regulation game. Utah also put up 28 treys in last season's triple-overtime win over Dallas. Utah only had four 20-point performances off the bench last year — two apiece by Hayward and C.J. Miles. Alec Burks, Jeremy Evans and Kevin Murphy did not play.
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