During their current playoff push, the Utah Jazz have done a fine job taking care of business versus inferior competition. They did so once again Friday evening, coasting to an easy 95-83 win over a young New Orleans Hornets squad.
After dropping a disappointing game against the Denver Nuggets, the Jazz got back to their winning ways by playing an unspectacular, but very solid game versus the Hornets. They have won six of seven outings as they battle with the Los Angeles Lakers for the final playoff spot in the West.
Big Men Come up Big: Once again, the Utah frontcourt was excellent. While rookie sensation Anthony Davis (24 points, 12 rebounds) and Robin Lopez (12 points, seven boards) had nice games, their Jazz counterparts propelled their team to victory.
Paul Millsap did it all for Utah, hitting a nice mix of inside and perimeter shots en route to an 8-of-13 night from the floor. He neared triple-double territory again, notching 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Swingman Gordon Hayward was ice cold out of the gate, missing seven of his first eight shots. A late 3 in the first half carried over into the second half as Hayward was successful on eight of his next 10 shots. He hit 5 of 10 3-pointers and paced Utah with 23 points.
Derrick Favors played his standard elite defense, rejecting six Hornets shots and altering numerous others. He seemed aggressive, confident and decisive offensively, making some nice moves inside. The big man had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Walking Wounded: As the long 82-game season winds down, the injuries are starting to crank up for the Jazz. Already missing super sophomore Enes Kanter with the effects of a shoulder dislocation, Utah lost three more players the past few days. Marvin Williams’ heel was giving him difficulties, so he sat out. During the course of the game, guards Alec Burks (sprained ankle) and Jamaal Tinsley (bruised lower back) both exited early.
The Energizer: Despite being in and out of the lineup all season, DeMarre Carroll remains ready when his number is called. With Williams sitting out, the scrappy forward was given the opportunity and made the most of it. While his stat line may not appear overtly impressive — six points, three assists and three rebounds — his hustle immediately made an impact. He disrupted things on defense, causing deflections and tallying three steals. He was diving on the court and exuded the effort that has endeared him to Utah Jazz fans.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. 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.