NBA Basketball: Atlanta Hawks at Utah Jazz – Jazz Favored
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It’s been 14 years since the Utah Jazz lost at home to Atlanta, but it’s also been nearly that long since the Hawks have played this well on the road.
The Jazz go for their 13th straight home win over the streaking Hawks when the teams complete their season series on Monday.
Utah (33-17) is outscoring Atlanta by an average of 12.1 points since a 121-112 defeat on Feb. 13, 1993, and has been one of the league’s best home teams in 2006-07. The Jazz improved to 19-6 at EnergySolutions Arena this season as Mehmet Okur scored 29 points in a 104-102 overtime victory over the New York Knicks on Saturday.
Despite not eating in more than a day due to a stomach ailment, the Jazz’s center helped his team overcome a 10-point deficit and scored on a layup with 12 seconds remaining to force the extra session.
Rookie Paul Millsap finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, Deron Williams had 16 points with 10 assists and Derek Fisher scored 14 points, including the go-ahead basket with 3 seconds left in overtime.
"I’m just happy with the way these guys played,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "I thought they played their hearts out to try to win the game. That speaks volumes for them.”
Okur has helped lead the Jazz during a four-game winning streak, averaging 27.3 points and 8.5 rebounds. He has scored 21.6 points in his last five games against Atlanta (20-30), including a 112-106 win on Dec. 20 when he recorded 30 points and 10 rebounds.
Okur helped the Jazz overcome a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit by outscoring the Hawks 40-13 in the final 12 minutes.
His strong play recently has been key as Carlos Boozer remains out with a fractured left leg. Andrei Kirilenko also is a game-time decision with back spasms.
Utah has won eight in a row overall against Atlanta, but will face a squad that’s become more confident recently, winning five straight on the road for its longest streak since winning seven in a row Nov. 17-Dec. 22, 1993.
The Hawks beat Golden State 106-105 on Sunday despite nearly allowing the Warriors to come back. Atlanta missed five of six free throws during a stretch late in the game and hit just 15 of 27 overall.
"It was a big win for us as far as confidence on this West Coast trip,” said Hawks leading scorer Joe Johnson, whose team will play the third in a five-game road trip. "We’ve got to stay motivated, stay confident, stick with the game plan and play hard night in and night out for 48 minutes.”
Johnson had 21 points and 11 assists, but Josh Smith led Atlanta with 29 points – including 11 in the first quarter – and grabbed 10 rebounds. Speedy Claxton had a double-double against his former team with 12 points and 10 assists and Josh Childress added 13 points and eight rebounds.
Atlanta, which beat Phoenix 120-111 on Friday to open its road trip, has scored over 100 points in back-to-back games after reaching that mark just twice in the previous 12 contests. They will face the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday in the final game before the All-Star break before playing at Chicago on Feb. 20.
By: Marc Young – theSpread.com – Email Us
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