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The Charlotte Hornets came apart in the fourth quarter of a 132-110 loss Monday to the Utah Jazz.
The Hornets lost leading scorer Gordon Hayward in the fourth quarter, when he fell hard on his right wrist. Hayward went to the locker room and did not return to the game.
The Hornets led by as much as 11 points in the third quarter, and trailed by only one entering the fourth quarter. But they came apart in the first five minutes of the final quarter.
The Jazz made 28 3s Monday, topping the 26 they made in the prior victory over the Hornets in Charlotte.
Hayward and LaMelo Ball each scored 21 points for the Hornets. Donovan Mitchell finished with 23 points and eight assists for the Jazz.
Observations off the game:
Getting to the rim
The Hornets led at halftime 67-64 by getting into transition and attacking the rim. Charlotte outscored Utah in the lane 28-12.
That’s no simple task against Utah center Rudy Gobert, the NBA’s best rim-protector. However, Gobert committed two first-half fouls, which limited him to 13 minutes in the half and then meant he could be less aggressive defensively at the end of the half.
Low-turnover gave them a chance
The Hornets committed just six first-half turnovers to the Jazz’s 10. That takeaway defense was key to the Hornets getting transition points. Charlotte outscored Utah 14-5 in fast-break points.
Struggle guarding 3-pointers
Hornets coach James Borrego made a decision at the start of this season to prioritize defending the rim over defending the 3-point line. That has resulted in four games this season when an opponent made 20 or more 3s.
Nobody exploited that more than the Jazz, who shot 26-of-50 from 3 in the first matchup with the Hornets in Charlotte. The first half Monday was little different; the Jazz made 13 of 29 3s, a 45% average.
Devonte Graham’s knee injury
Guard Devonte Graham missed his second consecutive game with a left knee injury. He suffered that injury against the San Antonio Spurs, and hasn’t be able to play or practice for eight days.
“We’re going to be very cautious with him,” coach James Borrego said pre-game. “Hopefully, we get him back soon.”
Graham’s diagnosis is left knee patella femoral discomfort. That is essentially pain around the knee cap. Graham didn’t practice Friday or play Saturday against the Golden State Warriors, but he did work out -- shooting, dribbling and cutting -- before the Warriors game.
Terry Rozier, Mr. Clutch
The Hornets have been by far the NBA’s top team in clutch time, defined as the last five minutes of a game with the margin between two teams five points or less.
Terry Rozier has been central to that, particularly after he made the buzzer-beating game-winner against the Warriors Saturday. In 30 clutch-time minutes this season through Saturday, Rozier had scored 33 points on 53% shooting from the field and 54% from 3-point range.
The Hornets are the NBA’s most efficient team in clutch time by a wide margin. Entering the Jazz game, they were outscoring opponents in clutch minutes by 53.3 points per 100 possessions. Second in that category is the Philadelphia 76ers at 34.8.