The Hawks came into EnergySolutions Arena having won three straight games this season and two straight in Utah, after losing 15 straight there dating back to the 90s. Another strong effort from the Hawks big three led Atlanta to a 102-91 victory.
Paul Millsap sat with an ankle injury and starting in his place was Derrick Favors. He took advantage of the opportunity with 17 points and 15 rebounds but had a hard time containing Al Horford and Josh Smith, although he is and was not alone in that regard.
Marvin Williams hit his first shot, a three pointer, but simmered to a 4-10 night shooting. Jeff Teague and Devin Harris looked determined to set the pace early and caught the Jazz on their heels early. In the first quarter, Kyle Korver extended his streak of games with a made three pointer to 50 games. The Hawks’ offense was fluid and cohesive throughout, and the Hawks seemed like they were gonna make the game a laugher by the third quarter.
Jeff Teague seemingly couldn’t buy a whistle in the first quarter but he turned it on in a big way by the third quarter. He blew by Randy Foye and others repeatedly in what looked like was an instant replay of most games in the past two weeks.
The Jazz mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter and got the crown enthused, which seem to throw the Hawks off of their game. However, the Hawks rebounded with easy attempts at the rim and clearly had a penchance for drawing contact. The Hawks finished with a 20-7 margin in fastbreak points, 54-46 advantage in points in the paint and and only 9 turnovers all game long.
The offensive execution over the past two weeks has been the best it has been in any stretch this season of the same length. Many of these performances have simply been the Hawks trio of Teague, Smith and Horford taking over the game and imposing their will. This attack with the ball in their hands has been what fans and bloggers expected at the beginning of the season by moving away from isolation-based basketball. As a result, the Hawks have outscored their opponents by 9 points per game over the past 6 games. It is a beautiful sight to see and it may propel the Hawk to the second or third seed in the Eastern Conference by season’s end.
1. Al Horford: Al has to be getting serious consideration for the Eastern Conference Player of the Week Award at this pace. Sporting the same bandage he wore after receiving a gash above his eye Monday, he set a new career high with 34 points. He also added 15 rebounds, 5 blocks and 3 steals. Horford has been clearly upset at being left off of the All-Star team and has answered questions about his ability to perform this season without Joe Johnson.
2. Josh Smith: Smoove was very forceful with the young-in Derrick Favors. He had a number of ferocious dunks and added 24 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists. He even went 5-7 from the free throw line (small victories).
3. Jeff Teague: Teague had himself quite a game but sadly left himself short of 20 assists and 8 assists, a threshold that would make 8 of his last 10 games that mark. He’ll have to settle for 19 points, 7 assists, and being the source of numerous embarrassing defensive lapses for Utah.