David West and the Hornets found a way to take lessons from the greatest comeback in franchise history and apply them two days later in the most lopsided beating they’ve ever given the Utah Jazz.
West scored 23 points, Chris Paul had 11 points and 10 assists, and New Orleans won its second straight, 100-71 over the Jazz on Friday night.
Coming off a game in which they overcame a 23-point, second-half deficit against Sacramento, the Hornets made this game a lot easier on themselves, taking a 20-point lead in the first half and making it stand up.
"The way we finished the Sacramento game, we felt good about that and wanted to come in with some carry-over," West said. "We were aggressive. We started off and tried to put them on their heels. We just didn’t let up."
Hornets reserve guard Marcus Thornton, seeing a sudden surge in playing time, scored 19 for a second-straight game. Trevor Ariza added 17 points, demonstrating more of a will to drive to the hoop than he had recently. He reaped rewards for that in the form of several crowd-pleasing dunks.
"To me, Trevor set the tone," Hornets coach Monty Williams said, adding that he could excuse Ariza’s six turnovers "when he’s attacking and trying to make it happen like that."
The Jazz came in 10th in the NBA in scoring at 101.4 points per game, but shot poorly and got few second chances as the Hornets finished with a season-high 53 rebounds, 29 more than Utah. The Jazz shot 35.8 percent and finished with a season low in points.
"They manhandled us the whole game," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "They beat us in every quarter. They pushed the ball up the floor, drove around us, dunked over us and everything else. We just didn’t have any answers. Give them a lot of credit. They were ready to play."
Paul Millsap had 14 points for Utah, which lost for only the fourth time in 11 road games this season. Deron Williams and Al Jefferson each scored 10. The Jazz also were a season-worst 10 of 20 on free throws.
"This is one of those games that nothing went right for us from the start," Williams said. "We missed free throws. We were selfish on both ends. A lot of it was them. They came out and played us tough."
The Hornets shot 50.7 percent and were 19 of 22 from the free throw line, with West going 7 of 9 on field goals and hitting all nine of his foul shots. Thornton was 8 of 10 from the field, including a driving roundhouse jam, and was 3 of 5 on 3-point attempts.
Thornton said Monty Williams told him before the game he’d get an opportunity to build on his previous outing.
"He just told me, ‘Be solid. Bring that same energy, that same intensity,’ and that’s what I tried to do," Thornton said.
Thanks to Thornton and 10 points from fellow guard Jarrett Jack, the Hornets reserves outscored Utah’s 37-22.
"This is one of the few times if not the only game all season long where we put together a complete 48 minutes,
Paul often has not matched up well against Williams, who was taken one pick ahead of him in the first round of the 2005 draft. That was not the case this time. Williams had trouble staying in front of the smaller Paul several times as the Hornets star aggressively used crossover dribbles and hesitation moves to create space for himself.
In one sequence in the third quarter, Paul drove around Williams and hung in the air as he banked a shot over defenders rotating in to help. Williams took the ball right back at Paul but his layup missed, and the Hornets went the other way to set up Belinelli’s 3, which gave New Orleans a 70-41 lead.
The Hornets started to build their first sizable lead after Jefferson’s turnaround jumper had pulled Utah to 16-14 in the first quarter. New Orleans scored the next 11 points, highlighted by Thornton’s first two baskets early in the second quarter.
Thornton later hit his first 3 of the game, making it 40-22. The Hornets went up 48-28 on Ariza’s driving dunk, followed by Paul’s weaving dribble and double-pump floater from the lane.
Notes: Mehmet Okur played for the first time since April 17, when he ruptured his left Achilles’ tendon in Utah’s opening playoff game against Denver. He had two points and an assists in a little less than 11 minutes. … Utah had only three rebounds in the second quarter. … The Jazz scored the fewest first-half points of any Hornets opponent this season. … Announced attendance was 14,414.