It wasn’t a heartbreaker on the level of what took place on Sunday evening in Houston, but the Atlanta Hawks suffered a defeat on Monday. The Utah Jazz led wire to wire in Philips Arena and, in the end, it was a 120-95 loss for the home team.
In a continuance of disturbing recent trend, the Hawks allowed the Jazz to jump all over them in the early going. Utah started the game on a 14-3 run as Atlanta shot just 1 of 7 from the floor and it wasn’t going particularly well on either end. Jazz forward Gordon Hayward had a field day, scoring 15 points in the first quarter, and the absence of Thabo Sefolosha proved glaring in the first stanza.
Still, the Hawks managed to keep the deficit manageable, trailing only 29-21 after the first quarter. That proved to be important in staying within striking distance, especially after Utah began the second quarter on a 7-0 spurt.
In the first 5:52 of the second period, the Hawks scored just two points and, in the process, the home team fell into a 17-point hole. From there, though, Atlanta responded with a 14-4 run that included a glorious airball from Rudy Gobert at the free throw line, and that pushed the score back to 44-37.
The Hawks then used a 6-0 mini-run down the stretch to climb within two before heading to the locker room with a 54-50 deficit. Given the issues on both ends, that margin felt, unequivocally, like a victory for Atlanta and, if nothing else, it provided some level of optimism for the second half.
Sadly that positive mojo dissipated with haste, as the Jazz were dominant in the third quarter. Utah used a 12-2 run to take command of the game once again and, later in the period, the visitors stretched the lead to 20 points. All told, the Jazz shot a blistering 80 percent (!) from the floor on the way to 37 points in the third and that, effectively, ended any chance for a Hawks victory.
Atlanta flirted with making a (small) run to challenge for the lead, but it never materialized in the fourth quarter. All told, the Jazz shot 61 percent from the floor and the defensive end was an adventure all evening long on the way to a 25-point defeat.
Dennis Schröder (21 points, 8 of 15 shooting) led the way for the Hawks statistically, while Malcolm Delaney (13 points, 5 of 7 shooting) contributed a strong performance in reserve duty. Offensively, Atlanta put together a thoroughly reasonable performance, but it simply was not enough to offset Gordon Hayward (30 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists) and a lights-out Jazz offense.
The Hawks will be back in action on Wednesday evening with a third consecutive home game, as the team will play host to the Denver Nuggets. Stay tuned.