Paul Millsap scored nine of his 16 points during a dominant third quarter for Utah, and Gordon Hayward had 13 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter to help the Jazz overcome one last New Orleans surge.
Robin Lopez and Greivis Vasquez each scored 18 points for New Orleans, which has lost eight of nine. Brian Roberts added 11 points. But the Hornets, who defeated Utah in an earlier meeting this season, struggled from 3-point range this time, going 5 of 21.
Utah was a disciplined 6 of 11 from deep.
Utah outshot the Hornets 49.2 percent (31 of 63) to 42.5 percent (31 of 73) and outscored the Hornets 28-17 from the free throw line, more than compensating for New Orleans 44-38 scoring edge in the paint.
The Jazz began to take command in the third quarter, methodically building a double-digit lead while the Hornets struggled from the field. New Orleans made only five of 14 shots in the period, missing all five 3-point attempts, while Utah made 10 of 17 shots (59 percent). Millsap had nine of his points in the quarter and Williams added eight before falling hard in a scramble for a rebound and hitting his head on the court.
Williams left the game for good with what team officials called concussion symptoms.
Still the Jazz continued to pull away, thanks to Kanter’s three-point play and inside basket, the second of which put Utah up 72-56 heading into the final quarter.
That proved too much for New Orleans to overcome, despite a 13-4 run to start the fourth quarter which narrowed the score 76-69.
Hayward then began to take over, hitting a pair of 3s and scoring as he was fouled by Austin Rivers to help Utah regain a double-digit lead in the final minutes.
After the teams finished the first quarter tied at 20, the Hornets went more than half of the second quarter without scoring a point. New Orleans missed seven shots and had six turnovers during that stretch, but Utah was not able to parlay New Orleans’ drought into a big lead, going up 29-20 before Lopez hit a pair of free throws and the Hornets started to close the gap.
New Orleans outscored Utah 18-12 the rest of the quarter, with Vasquez hitting a 3, a floater and finger roll, the last basket cutting Utah’s lead to 41-39 at halftime.
NOTES: Hornets rookie Anthony Davis (left ankle) missed his sixth-straight game and coach Monty Williams said before tip-off that he did not expect Davis back for Saturday night’s home game against Oklahoma City, either. ... Utah was without Mo Williams (right foot) for a third straight game, but coach Tyrone Corbin said he expects Williams to be back Friday night at Oklahoma City. ... Utah has won five of six games. ...The Hornets’ 3-point woes came two night after making 15 of 25 3-point attempts in a road victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.