Atlanta • It looked so familiar as the undersized power forward bulldogged his way to a double-double, fighting his way through traffic and getting to the line, scrapping for loose balls and keeping possessions alive with an extra jump.
Only this time, it didn’t say “Jazz” across Paul Millsap’s chest.
Friday night, five months after leaving Utah, the place where he transformed from an overlooked second-round pick to an NBA starter during his first seven seasons in the league, Millsap and the Atlanta Hawks rolled over his old team, 118-85, at Philips Arena.
Millsap was hardly the star on the night for Atlanta. Backup guard Lou Williams scored 25 points thanks to a career-high six 3-pointers, and center Al Horford dropped 23 on the lifeless Jazz. But in Millsap, for one night at least, Utah saw something it lacked.
“He came out with a purpose,” said Utah’s Derrick Favors, who backed up Millsap for the last three seasons. “He wanted to beat us. We’ve got to come out with the same intensity next game.”
Millsap grabbed 10 rebounds and overcame a poor shooting night with free throws to score 14 points — more than any Jazz player.
Earlier in the day, he had said the matchup would be “like any other game,” and his steady demeanor showed through on the court Friday.
“Paul was very collected,” Horford said. “You would have never guessed that he had played there. He looked normal. It was just another game for him. It will be interesting to see when we go to Utah, maybe he will get a little [emotional]. He’s one of those guys you can never tell because he’s got the same face and the same focus.”
The Jazz, meanwhile, are in search of consistency.
Utah hardly looked the same team that had beaten the Orlando Magic two nights earlier. Rookie point guard Trey Burke, who hit for a season-high 30 on Wednesday, finished with just 2 points in 20 minutes Friday. It took Gordon Hayward until the end of the third quarter and 14 shots to reach 11 points.
“It’s just unfortunate,” said Hayward. “I thought we were taking a step forward but we took another one back today. We’ve got to learn a lesson that we can’t just show up and play basketball games. We’ve got to be better and thankfully we can play tomorrow and get this one out of our minds.”
Backups Enes Kanter (13 points, 13 rebounds), Alec Burks (13 points, four assists) and Jeremy Evans (10 points, five rebounds) were bright spots on a lackluster night for a Jazz team just crossing the midway point of a five-game road trip.Next Page »