NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Baron Davis was too much for Utah's young
backcourt, drawing enough attention that the Jazz had no way to
deal with Steve Smith.
Davis had 23 points and nine assists, helping the New Orleans Hornets snap a two-game losing skid with a 96-89 victory Wednesday
"You're not going to stop a great player like him," Jazz coach
Jerry Sloan said of his starting guards, Carlos Arroyo and DeShawn Stevenson, who have a combined five years of NBA experience. "But
we have to try to compete and I think they got a little intimidated
as to who he was."
Smith, a 12-year veteran who wasn't signed by New Orleans until
the start of the regular season, scored 15 points in 20 minutes,
hitting all seven of his free throws.
"When Baron would penetrate and draw a couple guys, I got a
chance to get an open look," Smith said. "If I can get some open
shots I have a good chance of hitting them."
Davis shot only 7-for-20 from the field but made four 3-pointers
to go with 5-of-8 free-throw shooting. The Hornets shot 12-of-24
from 3-point range. Davis is shooting 44 percent from long range
"This is the way we play. We go for a lot of home run balls and
they've been falling for us," said Davis, who has scored more than
20 points in seven of nine games. "Our defense keeps us in it. We
run a lot, and by running we get a lot of 3-point opportunities."
The Jazz shot only 1-of-12 on 3-pointers, but Sloan was bothered
more by his team missing several inside shots.
New Orleans "made 3-pointers, but we would have been OK if we
would have made layups," Sloan said.
Utah's point total marked a considerable improvement for New
Orleans' defense, which had given up an average of 117 points in
its previous two games.
"I think our pressure was good," Wesley said. "We caused some
turnovers and got in transition. That's how we've got to play."
In its half-court offense, Utah routinely swung the ball around
the floor with quick passes to players moving without the ball. At
times it seemed to backfire as several passes sailed out of bounds
with no Jazz player nearby, and Utah finished with 17 turnovers.
Other times it produced points, however, with Utah players
receiving passes close to the basket as they cut into spaces
created when New Orleans' zone defense shifted. Utah outscored New
Orleans inside 50-24.
Harpring converted a layup on one such inside pass while being
pushed in the back by Sean Rooks, then hit the ensuing free throw
to cut the Hornets' lead to 69-64 late in the third quarter.
But Smith, sent in after George Lynch committed his fourth foul,
answered with a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws to build New
Orleans' lead back to 76-66.
Utah got as close as 87-82 when Jarron Collins hit a pair of
free throws with 5:29 left, but New Orleans put the game away by
scoring the next seven points on free throws by Wesley, a 3-pointer
by Lynch and a jumper by P.J. Brown that was set up by Davis off
"We were within five and then I don't know what happened,"
Harpring said. "I thought we had our opportunities to win. We
didn't make shots when we had to."
Davis and reserve guard Darrell Armstrong helped the Hornets
build a 52-39 lead at halftime. Armstrong hit three 3-pointers in
the half while Davis hit two from long range.
Kirilenko made his only two free throws and is now a
perfect 36-for-36 on the season. ... The Hornets (6-3) are 5-0 when
leading or tied after three quarters. ... Stacey Augmon of the
Hornets, who left the team for four games after a death in his
family, returned to the lineup but did not play.