Jazz starters benched after stinking it up vs. Hawks
Atlanta » Jazz coach Jerry Sloan made his statement midway through the third quarter, benching all five starters with his team trailing by 27 points and having been embarrassed up and down the court at Philips Arena.
Deron Williams made his statement after the game, directly to the fans who watched the carnage that was the Jazz's 96-83 loss Friday to the Atlanta Hawks, a game in which they trailed by a season-worst 32 points in the third quarter.
"It was a bad game," Williams said. "This is one of the games you try to forget about, just move on. We apologize to all the fans out there. We let you all down."
Sloan opted to bench Williams, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur and Ronnie Brewer for the final 17:51. The Jazz's starters accounted for just 31 points -- the bench had 52 -- and went a combined 10-for-36 from the field.
Williams finished with two points, four assists and four turnovers while missing 7 of 8 shots in 21 minutes. Boozer had six points, six rebounds and four turnovers while going 2-for-7 in 24 minutes.
It was the first time since the Jazz's 29-point loss in San Antonio to close the 2007-08 regular season that Williams and Boozer played and neither scored in double figures. Williams last scored two points in a Feb. 24, 2007, victory over Boston.
"We played like crap," Williams said. "I played like crap. Pretty much the whole team except for the last group that was out there did."
The Jazz were outscored 24-10 in points off turnovers and 29-16 on the fast break. The Hawks' starters outscored the Jazz's 64-31. Every Jazz player contributed at least one to the final count of 24 turnovers with the exception of Paul Millsap.
Afterward, Boozer was asked how the Jazz could avoid letting Friday's loss carry over to the remaining three games of their pre-Christmas trip, which continues tonight at Charlotte, which has beaten Atlanta, Cleveland and Denver in going 9-3 at home.
"Go on the plane, watch a little 'House,' talk to the family, learn from what we did wrong, of course, and then be ready to play tomorrow," Boozer said. "I think for us, we know we're a good team.
"We played bad tonight, they played great tonight, and they kicked our butts, period. And for us we've got to come in tomorrow with a different attitude, more intensity and try to impose our will from the tip-off all the way to the finish and get a win no matter what."
The Hawks opted for Joe Johnson to guard Williams, as opposed to point guard Mike Bibby, and took the Jazz out of the game by switching on defense, with the length and quickness of Josh Smith and Marvin Williams negating any mismatches.
"I think more than anything their length just hurt us," Williams said. "They switched everything. We didn't really have an answer for that. We didn't have a game plan against that. They played great basketball tonight."
The Jazz lost the third quarter 37-17, giving up a 16-0 run in which they were held scoreless for 5:13 and suffered a complete meltdown.
Boozer lost track of Smith on defense, with Bibby lobbing a pass to Smith for a dunk. Brewer got open along the baseline but blew a layup. Bibby buried back-to-back three-pointers to make it a 25-point game.
Amid the confusion, Williams threw a pass out-of-bounds. After Okur and Williams missed three-pointers, Al Horford flipped a layup off a no-look pass from Smith to make it 67-40.
Sloan called timeout with 5:51 left and brought in Eric Maynor, C.J. Miles, Andrei Kirilenko, Kyrylo Fesenko and Millsap.
"All of a sudden, we didn't really believe that we could do anything in our offense," Sloan said. "When they switched, big or small, we just stood in one spot and let them guard us. We didn't react to it very well at all. I don't know how we kept from turning it over only 24 times."
The Hawks won their sixth straight and improved to 19-6. The embarrassment continued in the fourth quarter for the Jazz as Ronnie Price slipped going up for a dunk and Wesley Matthews was blocked on a dunk bid by Jeff Teague.
In short » The final score isn't the worst of the season, but the Jazz's loss to the Hawks just might have been.
Key moment » The Hawks turn a two-point game in the second quarter to 10 going into halftime, then rout the Jazz in the third quarter.
Key stat » The biggest deficit the Jazz faced all season before Friday was 26 against the Lakers on Dec. 9.
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