The Charlotte Hornets, led by Lamelo Ball, are making their annual trip to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Jazz. While Ball is questionable for the game due to a wrist injury, his former-star teammate Gordon Hayward is expected to play. Hayward has a long and inconsistent history with the Utah Jazz, as a former All-Star for the team who opted to leave in free agency. Despite his departure happening almost six years ago, this will only be Hayward’s fourth time back in Salt Lake City as an opposing player. He has dealt with very public injuries ever since leaving Utah, including this season, in which he’s played only 22 games.
INJURY UPDATE: @hornets at UTA 1/23— Charlotte Hornets PR (@HornetsPR) January 23, 2023
Ball (L ankle, R wrist soreness) questionable
Martin (L Knee soreness) doubtful
Oubre (L Hand surgery) out
Charlotte is riding a two-game winning streak, while the Jazz have just come off a tough loss at home to the Brooklyn Nets.
When: January 23rd, 2023, 7:00 PM MT
Where: Vivint Arena | Salt Lake City, UT
Radio: 97.5/1280 The Zone
What to Watch For
The Utah Jazz rookie duo of Walker Kessler and Ochai Agbaji has been turning heads. Kessler has climbed into the nba.com rookie ladder top five and is a favorite to be on the All-Rookie first team. Agbaji is a more raw talent but has begun to earn the trust of coach Will Hardy. He’s firmly in the rotation now. Kessler has been starting in the place of the injured Kelly Olynyk, but many are wondering if he’ll keep that starting role when Olynyk returns. Kessler and Agbaji had lackluster performances against Brooklyn last game, so both should be ready to show out tonight.
After missing eight straight games, Hayward returned to action last game in Atlanta, playing 25 minutes. He’s expected to start again tonight. Hayward’s history in Utah is rocky at best, but hardly anybody from his tenure remains with the team. Not a single player on the roster today played with Hayward in Utah, and only a couple of the current assistant coaches today were on the staff to coach him. The front office has changed; there’s a new head coach and a new roster. The Utah Jazz that Hayward left behind no longer exists. The bad blood may remain in the hearts of the fans, though. I hope the fanbase has put it behind them, and I hope Hayward gets a warm welcome. If that’s too much to ask, at least a neutral welcome.