Playing on the road in the NBA, especially against a quality opponent, isn’t an easy thing to do. On Friday night, the Atlanta Hawks were reminded of that in a big way, as the offense struggled mightily during a lopsided 95-68 defeat at the hands of the Utah Jazz.
Atlanta’s issues began early, as the Jazz jumped to an 11-4 lead in the early going. The Hawks would quickly close that gap to 15-14 after a run of production from Dennis Schröder, but the point guard scoring 12 of the first 17 points was where the lion’s share of the positivity stopped on this night.
Though the Hawks were able to close the first quarter in just a one-point deficit, the second quarter was a trouble spot and the road team would never recover. Utah put together a 20-3 run to take a 48-32 lead, and while Mike Muscala stopped the bleeding with the final bucket of the half, Mike Budenholzer’s team went into the break with a 48-34 deficit.
Offense, as it was throughout the game, was the issue, as the 11 points scored in the second quarter were good for a season-low for any period. All told, the Hawks shot just 28 percent from the floor on the way to those 34 points, and the team’s offensive rating (72.9) told a clear story of the impotence on that end.
Things did not improve much, if at all, after the break as the Hawks scored just 14 points in the third quarter. Somewhat amusingly, that was actually enough to win that period as Utah struggled to just 13 points in their own right, but Atlanta’s 27 percent shooting and 48-point output were the story.
By the seven-minute mark of the fourth quarter, the coaching staff had “punted” the proceedings, as a 23-point deficit was enough to clear the bench in favor of DeAndre Bembry and Ryan Kelly taking the floor for the duration. Quite honestly, the rest of the game was (extended) garbage time.
Individually, the struggles were not limited to just a few players. Kent Bazemore (1 of 9) continued to play uninspired basketball, Dwight Howard (4 points, 7 rebounds) did not score until the fourth quarter and was outplayed soundly by Rudy Gobert, and even the bench failed to generate the spark that the Hawks have become accustomed to this season.
On one hand, losing to the Jazz on the road is something that was “supposed” to happen, given that Utah was favored according to Las Vegas. On the other, this was a lackluster performance that doubled as the fourth loss in five tries for Atlanta, and the offense as a whole looked listless and wholly unspectacular.
With three more games on the road trip, the Atlanta Hawks will have plenty of opportunities to bounce back, and the first will come on Sunday evening in Los Angeles against the Lakers. Let’s hope that a more competitive product returns for that contest, especially given what happened at Philips Arena when the Lakers were in town earlier in the year.