Point guards pave way to Utah Jazz's victory over Charlotte

Point guards pave way to Utah Jazz's victory over Charlotte

The play of point guards George Hill and Dante Exum led the way to victory for the Utah Jazz, who beat the Charlotte Hornets 105-98 on Saturday night at Vivint Arena.

Hill scored 25 points ­— the Jazz are now 11-0 when Hill scores 20 or more points — and Exum contributed 11, with both point guards on the floor for Jazz coach Quin Snyder down the stretch in the final quarter.

“We have a great chemistry. [Hill] is always helping me out whenever he can,” Exum said. “Sometimes, he’s saying ‘You take the ball.’ We’ve got a good thing going, and hopefully we can continue. George is a great player, and hopefully I get the chance to keep playing with him.”

Hill was a lifeline for the Jazz, tallying 12 points in the first half, tied with Exum for the second-highest Utah scorer at the break — behind Gordon Hayward’s 15 points.

Hill helped propel the Jazz to a 32-16 fourth quarter advantage and the win. Hill scored 11 points during the final period, including a big 3-pointer to tie the game at 96. Hill was also crucial on the defensive end. With the Jazz up two with two minutes remaining, Hill’s defense late in the shot clock forced a Hornets shot clock violation. On the next play, Hill dished to Hayward, who sank a jumper to put Utah up by four with 1:42 remaining in the game.

After a slow start by the Jazz, who trailed the Hornets 16-6 early in the first quarter, Utah was injected with life in the form of Exum, who checked in with four minutes left in the opening period. Exum racked up five points in his four minutes of play in the first, and added seven more in the second quarter as the Jazz went from trailing by as much as 12 to leading the Hornets by 11 at halftime. Exum would finish the game with 11 points.

“Dante had it going tonight, we’re both combo guards that can play the one, play the two, so I think coach just made an adjustment due to [Charlotte] playing small,” Hill said.

“I think [Exum] has embraced some of the adversity that he’s going through as a player, and when guys do that, and they grind, it feels good to see them have some success like he did tonight,” Snyder said.

For Snyder, the most important thing about the play of Exum on Saturday night was that he helped the team win.

“It’s not about Dante, it’s about what Dante did for the Jazz tonight, and he gave us a huge boost,” Snyder said.

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Published at Sun, 05 Feb 2017 05:40:00 +0000