The Charlotte Hornets had their worst shooting game of the season Friday night, and it was still good enough to beat the team with the best record in the NBA.
"We couldn't hit the broad side of a barn," coach Paul Silas said after the Hornets shot 33 percent on the way to defeating Utah 83-82 in overtime. "But we played mentally tough. And that's what made me proud. I've been preaching to the team that if you play hard, good things will happen."
Charlotte's fourth victory in seven games since Silas took over the team wasn't assured until Karl Malone missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
"Hopefully we can keep this going," said Elden Campbell, who led Charlotte with 19 points and 12 rebounds. "This team is really gaining confidence. You can see it in everybody on the floor."
All five starters scored in double figures for the Hornets, who won their fifth consecutive home game and snapped the six-game winning streak of the Jazz, who came in with an NBA-best record of 19-4.
"I can't say enough about the job Paul Silas is doing," Eddie Jones said. "Paul is giving every individual in this locker room confidence. And that makes all the difference in the world."
Silas, who got the job last week after Dave Cowens quit following a 4-11 start, has turned the Hornets around with defense, and it showed again against Utah. Charlotte held the Jazz to 37 percent shooting, more than 10 percent below their league-leading average.
"Tey looked like they wanted to play more and win, and that's what happened," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said of the Hornets. "We haven't had any enthusiasm or desire. We're not setting screens. We wallowed through a couple of plays. It doesn't look like we want to have any team concept. The team needs to find out if they want to be a championship team."
Charlotte, which forced the extra the extra period by rallying from eight points down in the final 2½ minutes of regulation, harassed Utah into 20 turnovers and converted them into 19 points. Jones paced the Hornets with five steals.
Jeff Hornacek had 21 points and Malone added 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Jazz, who missed 14 of 34 free throws and lost in Charlotte for the fifth time in six games.
"We let them back in it," Utah's John Stockton said. "Sooner or later, the way we were playing was going to catch up with us. We've been lucky the last couple of games and we've had a few breaks or defensive stops. You hope you can wake yourself up without having to lose. You don't want this to be habit-forming."
The Hornets pushed their lead to four points three times in the extra period, the last time at 83-79 on a dunk by Campbell with 2:28 left. Utah cut it to 83-82 on two free throws by Stockton and one by Hornacek, but Malone missed a jumper and Charlotte got the rebound with 31 seconds left.
David Wesley missed a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired and Utah got the rebound and pushed the ball upcourt with seven seconds remaining. Stockton fed the ball to Malone on the right wing, but his 3-pointer banged long and left as time expired.
Up by eight with three minutes left in regulation, the Jazz missed five of seven free throws the rest of the way, clearing the way for Charlotte's rally. The Hornets got a final chance when Bryon Russell's 3-pointer didn't touch anything as the shot clock expired, giving Charlotte possession with 13.5 seconds left.
Campbell's dunk tied it at the 8.4-second mark, setting up the Jazz for a potential winning shot. Stockton missed a 17-footer but Malone got the rebound and put up a follow shot that was blocked by Jones as time expired.
- The game drew a season-high crowd of 22,989 to the 23,799-seat Charlotte Coliseum.
- Hornets rookie Ricky Davis hit his first NBA 3-pointer in the second quarter.
- Utah has an all-time record of 16-5 against the Hornets.
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