On a night where the Utah Jazz were missing multiple players from injury they needed big contributions from other players. They got that from Ricky Rubio and Thabo Sefolosha to get the win over the Charlotte Hornets. Also, that duo of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert is as elite as any duo in the league.
But it wasn’t easy. The Hornets came into the game still in the hunt for a playoff spot in the east and Kemba Walker came out ready to play. Kemba ended the night with 47 points on 15/28 shooting. He gets to any spot on the floor and has an incredible ability to get separation to score. The problem was that the other Charlotte starters scored 6 points combined. 6 POINTS COMBINED!
Some of that may be a lot of Charlotte’s offense only creates opportunities for Kemba to score and not enough for the other players, but it also looks like there’s just not a lot of help for Kemba in Charlotte.
The lone bright spot for Charlotte outside of Kemba was Jeremy Lamb who scored 23 points off the bench. It makes you wonder a little why Lamb doesn’t start and they just stagger minutes, but at this point it may not matter. It’s very possible this is the last time the Jazz play against Kemba in a Charlotte uniform.
For Utah, bench scoring was the biggest issue of the night which was clearly from a lack of two key second unit players, Kyle Korver and Derrick Favors. For long stretches the second unit really struggled. Some of that was players missing shots, and a lineup that doesn’t normally play together, but it also showed how important Favors and Korver have been for second units.
The good news for the Jazz was how well the starting unit played together, and this included a tough night from Jae Crowder who left the game with a thigh contusion.
Ricky Rubio, doing what he always seems to do, has been playing better and better to end the season and it couldn’t come at a better time. Tonight he had 20 points and 13 assists with only 3 turnovers. The offense looked more under control while Rubio was on the floor, also. If the Jazz are getting playoff Rubio then things are looking good for the Jazz in the playoffs again. It’s also nice that the Jazz can have games without Favors and Korver play and still win.
The most important thing now for the Jazz is to win the easy games and get as healthy as possible while going into the playoffs.
Tonight? Mission accomplished.