Jazz limp through 102-91 home loss to Hawks
By Bill Oram
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Feb 27 2013 11:06PM
The steps forward have been countered by steps back, and the steps back have been compounded by awkward steps that result in limping steps.
Paul Millsap watched the Jazz lose to Atlanta from the training room, where he received treatment on a sprained left ankle that forced him to miss his first game of the season. Al Jefferson, hobbled by a late-game sprain to match, staggered uncertainly across the Jazz locker room to grab an item from his locker. DeMarre Carroll moved gingerly, his throbbing left knee wrapped in ice.
The home locker room could have stood in for a M.A.S.H. unit after the Jazz, already without point guard Mo Williams, lost in a 102-91 beatdown at the hands of the Hawks.
"It’s very frustrating," Gordon Hayward said, "especially when we have an opportunity to move up in the West a little bit and take care of this home court that we usually do a good job of defending."
Like M*A*S*H the TV show, each episode of the Jazz’s three-game losing streak has been a rerun.
Seen the one where the Jazz are lethargic out of halftime? The one where they fight valiantly only to come up short? You’ll laugh, you’ll cry.
The Jazz were outscored 26-18 in the third quarter and fell behind by as many as 20 points. They rallied in the fourth and got within eight with 5:32 remaining after a 3-pointer by Carroll, who played despite a hyperextended knee. However, the Jazz never got any closer, despite Randy Foye’s franchise record-tying 129th 3-pointer of the season.
"We got down too much again in that third quarter," Hayward said. "We can’t do that when we’re trying to make a run ourselves, but they stopped it and you can’t build yourself that big of a hole."
Jefferson led the Jazz with 26 points and 11 rebounds, but went down hard in the final minute. He stayed in the game but was listed afterward as day-to-day with a sprain. Derrick Favors, starting in place of Millsap, finished with 17 points and a season-high 15 rebounds. While that frontcourt performance was impressive, the Jazz were still outscored 54-46 in the paint, thanks to Atlanta’s Al Horford and Josh Smith. They combined for 58 points and 29 rebounds, with Horford scoring 34 points and Smith contributing 24.
Horford and Smith spent most of the night playing a two-man game, setting side screens to get Horford open jumpers from the elbow. When they tired of that, they simply stepped aside and allowed point guard Jeff Teague to drive to the hoop for his 19 points.
"They’re a hard team to guard," coach Tyrone Corbin said, "and they do a good job of getting in the paint and dishing out."
Marvin Williams finished with eight points on 4-of-10 shooting in his first game against the Hawks, the only team he had played for before the Jazz traded for him last summer. Former Jazz guard Devin Harris scored 12 points for the Hawks, while Kyle Korver scored four. DeShawn Stevenson, a former first-round pick by the Jazz, finished with two points in 13 minutes.
With Houston losing to the Bucks on a Monta Ellis buzzer-beater, the Jazz remained half a game up on the Rockets for seventh place in the Western Conference. The Jazz play one more game at home, Friday against Charlotte, before heading out on a four-game road trip through the Eastern Conference.
The Jazz were held scoreless for the first 4:24 of the second half. And while the Jazz were getting good enough shots to force Hawks’ coach Larry Drew to use a timeout, Corbin quipped, "It don’t matter when you’re missing them."