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Utah Jazz: Win streak ends in Atlanta

Published March 12, 2009 2:58 pm

The loss is the first for the Jazz in more than 30 days
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

As the final seconds ticked away Wednesday night, the public address announcer at Philips Arena couldn't help himself, yelling, "We are the streak busters. We end winning streaks. Hawks fans, make some noise!"

The Jazz stumbled at the start, faded at the finish and watched their 12-game winning streak expire with a 100-93 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. It was the Jazz's first loss in 31 days, since falling 116-96 at Golden State on Feb. 8.

"Now we're going to see what kind of character we've got," Carlos Boozer said. "I think if we're an elite team, we'll bounce right back. We won't just look at this thing and sulk and lose four or five in a row. We've got to bounce back from it and do some things a little different."

Mehmet Okur's jumper with 5:01 remaining gave the Jazz an 89-87 lead, but also was their last field goal of the night. The Jazz missed their final nine shots, committed four turnovers and were outscored 13-4 down the stretch as Atlanta improved to 23-7 at home.

The winning streak was the fourth-longest in franchise history and vaulted the Jazz back into contention. Then again, now 3-12 in the second game of back-to-back sets, the end might have been inevitable for the Jazz after beating Indiana on Tuesday.

It didn't come without a word of warning afterward from Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. "I just told them lots of times you see a team after they've had a streak, they start one the other way," Sloan said.

"That's something we definitely don't want to happen," Deron Williams said. "We feel like we're in a good spot right now. We've worked hard to get the 12 straight wins, we can't let one [loss] just set us back and bring us back to where we were before."

The Jazz squandered the chance to pass Houston, which lost to the Lakers, for third in the Western Conference standings. They now have played 31 road games this season and beaten only one team -- Detroit -- that came into Wednesday with a winning record.

A victory over the Hawks would have been their second, but the Jazz were out of sorts from the start. They fell behind 14-4 in the first 4 1-2 minutes, with Williams committing turnovers on three consecutive possessions and Okur picking up two quick fouls.

"We didn't run out of gas," Sloan said. "We didn't come with gas early. I don't mean to be rude or anything, but nobody cares what you did last night or what you did yesterday. You've got to come and play hard. We didn't play hard in the first half."

The Jazz trailed by 16 in the final minute of the first half, but were able to erase Atlanta's lead with a 33-18 third quarter. The Hawks went 5 of 18 in the quarter, with Joe Johnson following a 21-point first half by making only 1 of 7 shots.

With a 6-0 push after Okur's last jumper in the fourth quarter, the Hawks took the lead for good. Johnson backed down Andrei Kirilenko for a basket and Williams had a pass stolen by Murray, who ran for a dunk at the other end.

Okur tried to drive on Josh Smith but got tangled up and had his runner blocked with no foul called. Murray saved the ball to Johnson, who hit Al Horford for a dunk to make it 93-89 as the Jazz called timeout with 3:56 to play.

With the Jazz trailing 95-93, Kirilenko had his pass to Paul Millsap stolen by Horford, leading to a layup for Smith at the other end. Boozer then was called for an offensive foul for flooring Mike Bibby as he set a screen.

"I thought in a game like that, I don't think you don't call that foul," Boozer said. "I think he flopped, but [referee] Eddie [Rush] saw it a different way, so he called what he thought was a foul."

Kirilenko missed on a 27-foot three-pointer to beat the shot clock, Murray hit one of two free throws with 38.2 seconds left and the Hawks held on from there. After beating Detroit and New Orleans, the Hawks are now 3-0 on a seven-game homestand.

Johnson led the Hawks with 31 points while Williams had 20 points and nine assists for the Jazz, coming back on only 1:33 of rest in the second half. Millsap had 16 points and nine rebounds off the bench, but the Jazz were outscored 32-14 on the fast break.

"This was a game that was a winnable ball game for us," Williams said, "and they just got a lot of easy transition baskets there at the end of the game, got the crowd into it. I think the dunk by Flip and the dunk by Josh kind of broke us a little bit."

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Storylines

In short » The Jazz's 12-game winning streak comes to an end, losing the second game of a back-to-back set to Atlanta.

Key moment » Mehmet Okur can't get a foul call on a drive and the Hawks save the ball ahead to Al Horford for a dunk with 3:57 left.

Key Stat » The Hawks outscore the Jazz 12-0 on the fast break in the fourth quarter, which they won 27-18.