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Hawks trip Jazz to end six-game skid

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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SALT LAKE CITY — Kyle Korver has spent countless hours practicing and playing in the arena the Utah Jazz call home. The guard knows where his sweet spots are. He understands what the rims will allow.

That doesn’t mean leading the Atlanta Hawks back to his former home equals a trip to the comfort zone. Korver is the first to confess it takes 48 minutes of sweating and toiling to beat the Jazz in their own arena.

“This is a hard building to play in if you’re not the home team,” Korver said. “It doesn’t matter if you played here a bunch of times. If you’re not the home team, this isn’t comfortable.”

Korver did his best to make sure Atlanta’s visit was successful even if it wasn’t comfortable. He scored 26 points on 8-of-12 shooting, and forward Paul Millsap added 23 points to help the Hawks escape with a 112-110 victory over Utah on Monday night.

All five starters scored in double figures for Atlanta (27-35). The Hawks shot 48.7 percent (38-for-78) from the field and 44.8 percent (13-for-29) from 3-point range to snap a six-game losing streak.

Guard Trey Burke had 23 points to lead the Jazz, and forward Marvin Williams added 18. Seven Utah players scored in double figures, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Jazz (22-42) from suffering their sixth loss in seven games.

Guard Alec Burks hit a jumper and made two free throws to give the Jazz an 84-80 lead early in the fourth quarter. Atlanta never fell further behind.

The Hawks stayed within striking distance and moved in front for good when Korver and forward DeMarre Carroll hit back-to-back 3-pointers. Korver added a jumper to give Atlanta a 101-96 lead with 1:35 left.

Korver and Millsap each hit free throws in the final minute to seal the victory.

“It’s good for our guys in the locker room to have that feeling,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. “A lot of guys made big plays on both ends of the court. Basically everybody that played really contributed and helped us find a way to win the game. The ball movement and the offensive execution and the defense in the first half were really good.”

Atlanta extended its winning streak over the Jazz to six. The Hawks recorded their franchise-record 28th game of the season with 10 or more 3-pointers.

Finding a rhythm from outside mattered for the Hawks. Every shot was needed to turn back the Jazz’s comeback in the final minutes.

“It made a big difference because that’s a big part of what we do,” Millsap said. “We shoot a lot of 3s, and when we’re making them, we’re a tough team to beat. When we’re not, that’s when we got to buckle down and play defense and try to get stops that way.”

Korver had the hot hand for the Hawks in the opening quarter. He made four of five shots to open the game and helped Atlanta build an early lead. Korver’s fourth basket — a mid-range jumper — sparked a 9-2 Hawks run that ended with a 3-pointer by Carroll, giving Atlanta a 22-14 lead.

The Jazz closed within 28-27 after Burks stole the ball from center Mike Muscala and fed forward Jeremy Evans for a dunk. Atlanta responded with a 12-0 run to push the lead to 40-27 with 6:50 left before halftime. The Hawks burned Utah from the perimeter during the spurt. Three players hit 3-pointers, ending with a dagger from Korver.

Atlanta led by as many 17 points three different times before halftime, going up by that margin the final time when guard Jeff Teague hit two free throws to make it 59-42 with 13.8 seconds left.

A lack of energy characterized Utah’s play throughout the first half.

“I don’t think it was a lack of attention to detail,” Burke said. “Our offense was stagnant, and on defense, we allowed them to go wherever they wanted to go and we weren’t active.”

Utah came to life in the third quarter by heating up from outside. Burke buried back-to-back 3-pointers to get the Jazz within 62-52. The Jazz then scored on four consecutive possessions — culminating in a high-flying dunk from forward Richard Jefferson — to cut the deficit to single digits.

The Jazz finally took their first lead since the 8:02 mark of the first quarter when Burke made a fast-break layup to cap a 20-7 run, putting Utah ahead 74-73.

“I liked the last 24 minutes a lot better,” Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. “I thought we were a little sluggish in the first half, but I thought in the second half we came with just as much energy (as) we didn’t have in the first half.”

NOTES: PF Paul Millsap and SF DeMarre Carroll returned to play in a regular-season game in Utah for the first time since signing with the Hawks in the offseason. Millsap averaged 12.4 points and 7.0 rebounds during his Jazz career, while Carroll contributed 5.7 points and 2.8 rebounds. … Millsap is the only NBA player averaging at least 16.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks this season. His averages coming into Monday’s game were 17.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.1 blocks. … C Derrick Favors has a team-best 18 double-doubles (points and rebounds) for Utah this season. … Before Monday, Jazz G Alec Burks averaged 19.6 points over the previous 12 home games. He scored 12 points against the Hawks.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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