by Alma Bean
Feature Image: Photo by Rick Bowmer of AP Photo.
Mountain Island Lake to the Great Salt Lake
The first quarter looked like a competition of who didn’t want to win. Charlotte shot well within the perimeter going 12/20 (60%) but didn’t make any free throws or shots beyond the perimeter. Utah didn’t have an opportunity at the line but shot a lackluster 8/22 (36.4%) from the field. Charlotte gained momentum from their bench as Mark Williams (11 points and 3 rebounds) as he scored eight points off the bench in the first commanding the paint. That authority in the paint allowed for Charlotte to finish the quarter with a 24-21 lead.
Utah must’ve taken offense to trailing in the first quarter that they said that can’t happen again. The first eight minutes of the quarter made it look like Utah took the first quarter personal. Going on a 24-9 run, Utah had a small scare as Lauri Markkanen (25/11/2) looked to have rolled his ankle going for a rebound against Mason Plumblee (18/8/5). Markkanen had a slight limp for a possession or two but ultimately just walked it off and played on. With the help of multiple trips to the free throw line, going 13/14 (92.9%), Utah scored 37 points in the second quarter. The shooting barrage from Utah gave them the lead going into the half 58-45.
NC → UT, The Kessler Connection
Charlotte head coach Steve Clifford must’ve said some choice words during halftime because the team responded accordingly. Clifford and the Hornets were able to get rid of an in-game slump in the third quarter. Charlotte was able to make their first perimeter shot after going 0/7 (0%) in the first half. Terry Rozier (23/5/2) made that first three shortly into the quarter but was definitely a problem for Utah in the first half with 13 points. The tables had turned in Charlotte’s favor getting to the free throw line as they went 10/13 (76.9%) after being 5/10 (50%) in the first half. Utah had another injury scare as Ochai Agbaji (8/4/2) drove to the basket for a dunk and fell on his head and wrist. Agbaji was down for a moment or two but left the game to be checked out in the locker room. Thankfully Agbaji was able to return to the game as Utah finished the quarter with an 89-79 lead.
In the fourth, Utah was able to run away with the game. Utah having their third 30+ point quarter of the game, Charlotte needed to pull out all of their tricks. Continuing to emphasize the paint as they outscored Utah 66-46 for the game. As Charlotte continued to attack the paint, Utah would answer from the perimeter. Charlotte finished the game 2/16 (12.5%) from the perimeter while Utah went overboard and shot 16/40 (40%). After Utah was up by 25 points with just over four minutes left in the game, Clifford and Utah head coach Will Hardy decided to empty the benches since the result was already written. Charlotte outscored Utah 15-8 after the timeout, but Utah came away with the win 120-102.
Utah will go on a one-game road trip to face the Portland Trail Blazers for their third meeting of the season on Wednesday night.