Bridges, Hornets scrap their way past Jazz in 107-101 home victory

Charlotte has won eight of its past 11 matchups

Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) drives past Utah Jazz guard Trent Forrest (3) for a layup during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, March 25, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

CHARLOTTE — Three different Hornets scored more than 20 points Friday night as Charlotte edged its way past the Utah Jazz with a 107-101 win at Spectrum Center.

Miles Bridges had 26 points with 11 rebounds, Terry Rozier posted 25 points with four rebounds, and LaMelo Ball notched 21 points with five assists. 

The game was a return to form for the Hornets (38-36), who bounced back from a 15-point loss to New York (32-42) on Wednesday. 

That loss had snapped Charlotte’s five-game winning streak, but Friday’s win gave the Hornets wins in eight of their past 11 games. The Hornets closed out their five-game homestand with a 4-1 record while pulling within a half-game of the Brooklyn Nets (38-35) for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.

Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz (45-29) with 26 points and seven assists and Rudy Gobert recorded 11 points and 19 rebounds. Jordan Clarkson added 19 points in his 35 minutes off the bench.

“I’m really proud of the effort tonight,” Hornets coach James Borrego said, noting that Charlotte outrebounded Utah by a 45-38 margin. “Our guys played extremely well for 48 minutes. Our defense got it done tonight. I was really impressed with our defense, their commitment, their talk, their communication, their buy-in on the defensive end. Probably one of our best rebounding efforts of the season. To win the board and hold them to that number on the board is fantastic and that just took effort.”

Prior to Friday’s game, it had been four years — and eight games — since the Hornets had defeated the Jazz, matching their largest active losing streak to an opponent. In a back-and-forth contest with 17 lead changes, it all came down to the final few minutes. 

At the 1:08 mark in the fourth quarter, Rozier made a clutch 3-pointer that gave Charlotte a 102-99 lead followed by Bridges hitting a pair of late free throws to ensure his team’s victory. 

“Every time we play against Utah, we get killed on the boards,” Bridges said. “This is actually my first win against Utah, and every single time I’ve lost against them, we’ve gotten killed on the boards and killed in every single other aspect. Today, we just put our foot down and did what we had to do to get (Gobert) off the glass. Luckily, they didn’t have Hassan Whiteside because he’s a handful too. Getting all those guys off the glass worked in our favor.”

The Hornets head to Brooklyn next for an important meeting between two teams jockeying for playoff position. Charlotte will then host the Denver Nuggets (43-31) on Monday before traveling to New York to square off with the Knicks again on Wednesday.