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Jazz look to reach high notes vs. struggling Hornets
The Utah Jazz will attempt to salvage a split on their four-game trip Friday night when they visit the reeling Charlotte Hornets.
The Jazz finally came out on the winning end of a close game Wednesday when they edged the Washington Wizards 107-104.
Utah had come up short on the first two games of its trip, losing at Denver and Miami by a total of nine points.
The Jazz had lost seven in a row on the road until Epke Udoh took advantage of the absence of Utah's two best big men to produce season-bests with 16 points and nine rebounds against the Wizards.
Star center Rudy Gobert definitely won't face the Hornets as he continues to rehab a bruised knee. Derrick Favors is questionable with a sprained right ankle.
The Jazz, a playoff team a year ago, have gone just 3-9 without Gobert, one of the league's top shot-blockers, in the lineup this season.
"What we're in the process of doing right now is kind of experiencing new things," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said Wednesday night before sending out his ninth different starting lineup of the season, the first that's included Udoh. "The injuries have exacerbated that because we're experiencing new lineups."
Even en route to a win, the Jazz demonstrated the frustration of recent losses when their leading scorer, Rodney Hood, was ejected in the third quarter after accumulating two technical fouls.
On his way to the locker room, Hood swiped at a Wizards fan who was taking his picture, knocking the phone out of the man's hand.
Hood likely will be notified of a fine, and even a possible suspension, before taking the court in Charlotte.
The Jazz have struggled at Charlotte in recent years, losing each of their last three visits.
The Hornets haven't had much success at home this season. Their 115-111 loss to Dallas on Wednesday night dropped their home-court record to 2-7 since Dec. 6 and 10-11 for the season.
The Hornets' biggest problem against the Mavericks was Dwight Howard's free throw shooting. He missed 13 of 18, almost single-handedly sabotaging Kemba Walker's 41-point night.
Utah is unlikely to be able to use a similar hack-a-Howard strategy on Friday night because of its injuries up front. Udoh's backup at center at Washington on Wednesday was Tony Bradley, who had been promoted from the G-League just this week.
That said, the Hornets likewise have little choice but to stick with Howard on the court even through the parade to the free throw line. They're still without key backup Cody Zeller following surgery.
Another Hornets loss on Wednesday has some speculating it was time to trade the team's only star, Walker, and start over. Charlotte interim coach Stephen Silas was not a supporter of the idea.
"He does everything," said Silas, who still hasn't given up hope of a second-half playoff run. "He comes up with big steals. He goes for charges. He makes every big pick-and-roll play, every shot, every play for everybody else."
Updated January 11, 2018