The Utah Jazz and the Charlotte Hornets both look to snap a two-game losing streak when they face off against each other on Monday night. It won’t be easy for the Jazz as they have struggled recently with up-and-coming teams that play with a chip on their shoulder. The Hornets are not generally thought of as Eastern Conference contenders this season, but they may be the ultimate team in the NBA that no one should underestimate. With rising star LaMelo Ball leading the way and all-star Gordon Hayward still producing at a high level, this team is not going to go down easily.
The Hornets may not have the talent on paper to match the Jazz from top to bottom. But what they lack in top-shelf talent, they make up in playing with heart and with a belief in themselves. That confidence emanates from second-year point guard LaMelo Ball, who leads the team in scoring with 20.3 PPG. Even more impressive from Ball though is his passing and the ability to get his teammates involved with 8.1 APG. The key to this game for the Hornets will be for Ball to get as many of his teammates as he can involved early. The Hornets are going to need an all-hands-on-deck effort in order to score enough to be able to keep up with the Jazz, who will be playing with urgency to get this win.
The Jazz have lost the last two games in puzzling fashion. Part of the problem with the most recent loss to the Wizards was that the Jazz were missing the poise of Mike Conley, the Jazz are now 0-3 without Conley this season. But going back to last season the Jazz have been relatively good in crunch time, with Donovan Mitchell & Rudy Gobert serving as the one-two offensive-defensive punch that could put most teams away late in games. But for the last two games, the Jazz have not been able to stop anybody in crunch time. Luckily the Jazz have time yet this season to fix whatever their problem is in close games but the challenge is to take it one game at a time and play like they are capable of against the Hornets. The key to this game for the Jazz will be to get out to a fast start and keep turnovers to a minimum throughout the game.
This game is critical for both teams as the Hornets are trying to keep pace for the final playoff spot in the east and the Jazz are trying to regain the momentum that they had before they hit the halfway mark of the season. This should be a fun matchup and hopefully the Jazz can come away with the victory.
When: 12/20/2021, 7 PM MT
Where: Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
TV: ATTSN-RM, NBCSWA