Gordon Hayward had his best scoring game of the season Saturday night, and the Utah Jazz locked down on defense in the fourth quarter to send the Charlotte Hornets home with a defeat.
G-Time tallied 33 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, on 13-of-20 (65 percent) shooting to go with eight rebounds, two assists and a steal as the Jazz used a 32-16 fourth quarter to take down the Hornets 105-98 at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
“I think we got stops, and when we did get stops we were able to attack against a defense that wasn’t set yet,” Gordon said. “I think we were able to finally hit some open threes that we were missing earlier. But I think it all started defensively for us.”
Gordon hit one of his two 3-pointers on the night early in the first quarter, but the Jazz trailed 28-23 after one. Utah found its rhythm on both sides of the ball in the second.
G-Time checked in at the 8:23 mark, and 20 seconds later, he sent Marvin Williams flying with a pump fake beyond the arc then put it on the floor, finishing with a dunk over Frank Kaminsky III to tie the game at 33. The Jazz held a 13-point advantage with Gordon on the floor in the second and 55-44 at the break.
But after the Jazz held a 29-16 advantage in the second, the Hornets flipped the script, outscoring Gordon and Co. 38-21 in the third. G-Time hit a couple of shots, including his second three of the night, early in the third, but Charlotte entered the fourth with an 82-73 lead.
However, the game once again teetered back in favor of the Jazz in the fourth. The Jazz were down 92-82 with eight minutes left when they went on a 21-4 run to help put them on top.
Gordon splashed an elbow jumper to bring the Jazz to within one with 5:52 to go. The Jazz held a two-point lead with 2:00 to go when Gordon doubled it, hitting from the top of the key to put the Jazz up 100-96. On the following possession, he attracted two Charlotte defenders with a drive before making a cross-court pass to Joe Johnson, who buried the dagger 3-pointer.
He had high praise afterward for both Johnson and point guard George Hill. The two combined to hit nine 3-pointers. Hill had 25 points, while Johnson turned in 18 off the bench.
“(Hill and Johnson) just makes it easier on me,” Hayward said. “Defense can’t just focus in and they were both terrific tonight. Joe, specifically, the past two games has been a playmaker for us.”
Up next, the Jazz travel to Atlanta to face off against the Hawks on Monday night.