CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Charlotte Hornets tried switching on defense to slow down the NBA's top team.
It didn't work.
Bojan Bogdanovic had 31 points on seven 3-pointers and the Utah Jazz set a franchise record with 26 3's as they beat the Charlotte Hornets 138-121 on Friday night for their 14th victory in 15 games.
Donovan Mitchell scored 30 points and Rudy Gobert added 12 points and 15 rebounds for the Jazz, who shot 52% from 3-point range and led by 26 in the second half.
“They were playing small, so they were trying to switch and they were giving us open 3s in the corner,” Bogdanovic said. “Our point guards are doing a great job of finding all of us on the perimeter. But everything starts from our defense. If we guard, we are able to run and shoot those transition 3s.”
Said Jazz coach Quin Snyder: “We knew coming into the game that we'd see different defenses on and off the ball, whether it be switching 1 through 5, blitzing, zone, and I think the biggest thing was we needed to be in attack mode and understand that we can still move the ball, we can still be unselfish.”
The Jazz were certainly that, finishing with 32 assists.
Rookie LaMelo Ball was terrific in the loss with a career-high 34 points and eight assists for the Hornets, who lost to both conference leaders this week following a three-game winning streak.
Mitchell called Ball “the real deal.”
“I'm not going to lie, I'm very impressed,” Mitchell said. “Not just his play-making ability and his competitiveness but his joy. I don't think I have ever not seen him smile throughout the game.”
Added Bogdanovic: “He is great. He really hurt us with his pick-and-roll game. He has a bright future in the league.”
Hornets coach James Borrego was most pleased that Ball didn't have any turnovers.
“That's big for us, we need that,” Borrego said. “When I see that ratio, good things are going to happen for us most times than not, no matter if the shots go in or not.”
Gordon Hayward had 25 points and 10 rebounds for Charlotte.
The red-hot Jazz (18-5) entered the game with the NBA's best record and left no doubt about this one.
Utah led by 15 at halftime and pulled away in the third quarter behind Bogdanovic, who was 4 of 4 from 3-point range during one stretch, helping the Jazz build a 93-70 lead.
The short-handed Hornets cut the lead to nine with about three minutes to play in the fourth quarter, but Bogdanovic extinguished the rally with his sixth 3-pointer of the half with 1:18 left to push the lead to 13.
Jazz: Bench outscored Charlotte's 40-28.
Hornets: With Terry Rozier returning from a two-game absence because of an ankle injury, Borrego went with an unusual starting lineup that included three points guards — Rozier, Devonte Graham and Ball. ... Starting forward P.J. Washington missed his second straight game with a foot injury. His status for Sunday's game vs. the Wizards is uncertain.
Both teams lost key players to injuries.
Charlotte's Devonte Graham left the game in the second quarter with a strained groin and did not return, while Utah's Mike Conley developed tightness in his hamstring and only played 22 minutes.
Neither coach gave an update on the status of their players after the game.
Borrego was pleased with his team's play despite the loss.
“Shoot, we scored 121 points on one of the best defenses we are going to see all year,” Borrego said. “They kept battling and fighting and we've just got to take that into the way we played there in the second half, just taking that into our next game.”
Jazz: Visit the Pacers on Sunday.
Hornets: Host the Wizards on Sunday.