Millsap leads Jazz over Hornets
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Paul Millsap saw his first three shots blocked, and first four miss their mark. The Utah Jazz forward then found his stride.
Millsap finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks to lead the Jazz to a 104-99 victory over the New Orleans Hornets.
Hours after finally joining the Twitter world earlier in the day, he could be seen tweeting away following the game.
“Shout out to all my new followers on my first day!” he said.
He had 814 followers but no doubt will see that number surge.
Overall, it was a much happier scene in the Jazz locker room than after Monday’s game, when they suffered their most lopsided loss in franchise history — 125-80 to the Houston Rockets.
“It’s tough to let a game like that go,” Millsap said. “You have to move on and put one foot ahead of the other and keep pushing. We let it go and came out tonight (and) it seemed like it was getting ready to go that way again. But we got it going and won the game.”
The Jazz trailed by 12 points in the first quarter before rallying to take the lead with a 32-point second period.
They led by 10 points with about 7 minutes remaining in the fourth. Then, Anthony Davis, plagued by foul trouble, nearly brought the Hornets all the way back with an eight-point quarter. He pulled them to 95-94 with 2:18 remaining but Millsap and Al Jefferson hit back-to-back shots from 14 and 20 feet, respectively, that provided the cushion Utah would need.
Ryan Anderson’s 3-pointer with 15 seconds left pulled the Hornets within 100-97, but Randy Foye and Millsap each hit two free throws down the stretch to seal it.
“I don’t think we felt like we could really win tonight,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said. “I thought we were hoping, instead of really going after it.
“Even when it was just a three-point lead in their favor, they were in command of the game. I never felt like we had a chance to take the momentum because they were just playing inside the whole night. When you have a couple of post-up options like they do, with some shooting, it makes it easier to play.”
Greivis Vasquez led the Hornets with 17 points and 13 assists, but made just 8 of 21 shots after starting 3 of 4.
After shooting 68.8 percent (11 of 16) in the first quarter, the Hornets finished 37 of 78 (47.4 percent).
Williams was more displeased with the free-throw shooting as the Hornets made just 17 of 28. The Jazz didn’t do much better but got to the line more, hitting 32 of 46.
“They had 48 points in the paint. We did a decent job we had 40, “Williams said. “We couldn’t knock down a free throw.”
He also acknowledged his guard play was below average.
“A lot of times you guys look at the numbers and assists and you think they’re playing well but they’re not,” Williams said. “We’re not managing the game properly. What you see out there is a young team, but it’s not our young guys making the mistakes. It’s the guys who have been in the league for three or four years.”
It didn’t help that the Hornets sat leading scorer Eric Gordon as they have as part of a medical protocol when playing the second game of a back-to-back.
The Jazz climbed back into the game in the second quarter behind one of their young players, Derrick Favors, and one of their oldest veterans, Earl Watson. Watson pushed the pace and Favors was a beast inside, hitting 4 of 4 shots in the quarter and corralling three rebounds.
Utah also dominated the paint in the second, holding an 18-8 edge on points.
DeMarre Carroll’s fast-break layup tied it at 39 with 5:59 left in the half and Utah took a 51-47 lead into the break, with Millsap finally scoring a field goal after starting 0 for 4.
“We fought last night in the second quarter,” guard Roger Mason, who started in place of Gordon, said of a comeback attempt against the Lakers. “Tonight we gave up 32 points. We can’t afford to do things like that.”
Jefferson had his hands full with Robin Lopez, who finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.
“Lopez is a big dude,” Jefferson said. “I’m glad his brother is not in the Western Conference because I couldn’t deal with both of them. … He’s just a physical big guy. It will always be a battle with me and him because he (will) do the little things. He’s going to beat you on the boards. He’s going to defend well.”
Millsap, who turned up his aggression in the third quarter, scored 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting as the Jazz took a 78-75 lead into the fourth.
He scored on a drive where he hung in the air and was fouled by Davis, then got Davis to pick up foul No. 4 with 8:45 left in the third.
Millsap would get Anderson to pick up his fourth four minutes later.
When the fourth started, Utah quickly bumped its lead to eight, with Alec Burks hitting a 3-pointer on a nice feed from Millsap. The Jazz increased the lead to 90-80 on a pair of free throws by Burks with 7:16 remaining.
Davis then made it a game.
But the Jazz held on, avoiding another embarrassment.
NOTES: Williams said the team continues to follow the medical protocol it set for Gordon, holding him out in the second game of back-to-backs. Gordon has come back from a knee injury that caused him to miss the first third of this season, and all but nine games last year. … Both teams have five players score in double figures, with Lopez adding 15 and Davis 14 for the Hornets. . Favors added 15 points, Foye 14 and Marvin Williams 11 for Utah. . The Jazz are still without starting point guard Mo Williams (thumb surgery) and third-leading scorer Gordon Hayward (sprained shoulder.). . The Hornets shot 68.8 percent in the first quarter but made just 5 of 18 shots (27.8 percent) in the second. Vasquez was particularly cold, hitting just 1 of 7 shots in the second and turning it over twice. His complaining earned him a technical with 3:24 left in the half.