Published February 13, 2012
NEW ORLEANS – Chris Kaman scored a season-high 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and the New Orleans Hornets snapped an eight-game skid with an 86-80 victory over the Utah Jazz on Monday night.
Marco Belinelli and Gustavo Ayon each added 13 points for New Orleans, which led by as many as 20 in the third quarter before holding on for only its third victory in 26 games. Greivis Vasquez had 12 points and 10 assists.
The 7-foot Kaman, who normally has played a reserve role this season, started for only the seventh time because center Emeka Okafor was scratched shortly before tipoff with a sore left knee.
Kaman himself was questionable heading into the game because of sore left ankle, which he had hurt during warmups before the Hornets' loss to Portland on Friday night. But Kaman felt good after warmups this time and then turned him one of his most dominant performances of the season.
He scored on a wide range of mid-range jumpers, short, graceful jump hooks and workman-like putbacks under the basket.
Al Jefferson had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Utah, which was playing the second of back-to-back games after winning in Memphis on Sunday night. The Jazz turned the ball over 20 times, but still managed to get as close as three points in the final minute.
Derrick Favors added 14 points for Utah. Raja Bell had 11 points after making his first four shots, including three 3-pointers, but played a little less than 22 minutes.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin appeared frustrated with his starters during a difficult third quarter and went mostly with reserves down the stretch, which almost paid off.
New Orleans led 76-59 toward the middle of the fourth quarter after Kaman scored four straight points. Then, Utah began to claw back with a 13-3 run ignited by Earl Watson's jumper. Gordon Hayward added four points during the spurt, cutting New Orleans' lead to 79-72 on a jumper with 3:24 left.
Watson later trimmed it to 81-76 when he raced to the sidelined to grab a loose ball after Gustavo Ayon had blocked Favors underneath and threw in a 27-foot bank shot with 2:11 left. The Hornets' lead was down to 83-80 on Favors' putback with 21.6 seconds left, but then Utah had to start fouling.
Kaman made one free throw and Trevor Ariza made two more for the final margin with 12.6 seconds left.
The Hornets dominated the third quarter, going on an 18-1 run to take a 20-point lead on Vasquez's basket made it 63-43. Kaman scored six of his points during the spurt on a pair of jumpers and a putback.
Utah led 21-13 in the first quarter after a 9-0 run highlighted by Favors' dunk. New Orleans responded by scoring the last seven points of the quarter, then pulled ahead with a 7-0 run to close the second quarter, with Belinelli's 3 giving the Hornets a 41-36 halftime lead.
Notes: Utah's Earl Watson was called for a technical foul for arguing with officials early in the fourth quarter. ... For the second straight game, the Hornets had only nine players in uniform. In addition to Okafor, the Hornets were without G Eric Gordon (right knee bruise), G Jarrett Jack, (left knee bruise), F Carl Landry (left knee sprain) and F Jason Smith (concussion). The Jazz, by contrast, entered without a single injury. ... Both teams wore uniforms with some form of purple, green and gold on them. The Jazz were wearing their white jerseys, which this season have trim similar to the Mardi Gras-inspired color scheme the team wore when it was founded in New Orleans in 1974. The Hornets, whose regular colors are a bright blue and gold, were wearing special edition Mardi Gras uniforms in recognition of the parade season that is under way now and ends on Mardi Gras Day, Feb. 21. ... Utah fell to 3-8 on the road. ... The Jazz won the only other meeting so far this season, 94-90, in Utah on Jan. 2.