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Utah Jazz vs Charlotte Hornets: Game Preview

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Two first-time all-stars face off in SLC

NBA: Utah Jazz at Charlotte Hornets Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off three days of rest, the Utah Jazz (31-19) will spar with the Charlotte Hornets (23-27) at Vivint Smart Home Arena (can we please just start calling it the Larry H. Miller Center?)

Both of these teams got exciting news when the all-star reserves were announced last week. Jazz forward Gordon Hayward and Hornets guard Kemba Walker were selected to the all-star game for the first time in their respective careers.

If the Jazz have been having a rough time lately, the Hornets are going through Hell right now. They’ve recorded just four wins (out of 16) since the new year. That ought to make some Jazz fans feel better about Utah going 1-3 last week.

Starters

PG George Hill vs Kemba Walker

SG Joe Ingles vs Nicolas Batum

SF Gordon Hayward vs Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

PF Derrick Favors vs Marvin Williams

C Rudy Gobert vs Spencer Hawes

There’s a couple things to consider when it comes to the starting lineup. First, with Alec Burks’ recent run of good play, it’s conceivable that he could get the starting nod for the first time since December 2015 with Rodney Hood likely out.

Also, the Hornets have been trying to find a replacement for Cody Zeller at center until he returns from injury. Roy Hibbert has been that guy for the last few games. But Spencer Haws started in the Hornets’ last game (a blowout loss to the Warriors). Hibbert didn’t even step on the court in that game.

Injuries

Jazz:

Rodney Hood - OUT (knee): Hood has a bone contusion and a LCL sprain in his right knee

Hornets:

Cody Zeller - Questionable (quad): Zeller has missed the last five games for the Hornets and it is not known if he will play against the Jazz.

Both the Jazz and Hornets will likely be down starters Saturday night. Neither are the star for their team, but they do make their respective impacts.

Marquee Matchup: George Hill vs Kemba Walker

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

George Hill is going to be the first line of defense against the Kemba Walker onslaught. Walker will be trying his best to get his team rolling again on the season. Hill had an up-and-down January but will get a chance to have a good start on a more consistent February.

X-Factor: Rudy Gobert

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte’s frontcourt is the kind that Rudy Gobert eats for a light afternoon snack. Rudy needs to dominate the Hornets the way he dominated the Pacers. This is a game where you could end up seeing Gobert go for 20/15 again.

Prediction: Jazz win

The Jazz could very easily lose this game. They have, on many occasions, played down to opponents that they shouldn’t have. But I have faith in the Jazz. They should go home with a win Saturday night.