The red-hot Utah Jazz, winners of 12 of their past 13 games, begin a three-game road trip on Thursday against the suddenly struggling Atlanta Hawks.
The recent success propelled the Jazz into a share of first place in the NBA’s Western Conference with the best winning percentage in the league.
The Hawks have lost two straight games and saw their record dip below .500 following a 122-116 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday.
Atlanta will be playing its fourth back-to-back this season; the Hawks have two splits and were swept once. The Hawks are hopeful of getting second-leading scorer De’Andre Hunter back Thursday after he missed two games due to right knee discomfort.
The Hawks struggled Wednesday when the Mavericks aggressively double-teamed point guard Trae Young for most of the game. Young didn’t score his first basket until five minutes remained in the first half, and he was limited to 21 points. He only shot three free throws, limiting a key part of his game.
Atlanta also committed 16 turnovers and continue to rank near the bottom of the league at 14.8 per game.
“We’re turning the ball over in bunches,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “Our turnovers are mounting and they’re costly. We’ve got to be able to execute when the other team takes us out of our action … execute better against the schemes teams are throwing against us.”
Hawks center Clint Capela continues to rebound at a torrid pace. He has pulled down 10-plus rebounds in 17 straight games, the longest streak in the NBA this season and the longest by an Atlanta player since Dwight Howard’s 19-game run in 2017. Capela, who averages 13.6 points and 14.3 rebounds, and will be matched against Utah’s Rudy Gobert, who averages 13.3 points and 13.4 rebounds.
Utah recovered from a Sunday loss at Denver to earn a 117-105 victory over the visiting Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night. The Jazz nearly blew a 28-point lead, watching the advantage dwindle to four points with 2:06 left before answering with back-to-back 3-pointers from Bojan Bogdanovic.
“Sometimes when you build a big lead like that, the whole narrative becomes, ‘What happened?’ because you didn’t win by 30,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “These are NBA teams. They’re good teams. There’s going to be runs. The big thing for us is to make that hard.”
Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell scored 32 points against the Pistons. It was the first time he scored 20-plus since Jan. 23, a four-game stretch that saw him miss two contests because of concussion protocol. Mitchell averages a team-leading 23.3 points and has averaged 23.7 in six career games against the Hawks.
Utah’s Joe Ingles, who slid into the starting lineup for the two games Mitchell missed, learned Wednesday he had been named to the Australian Olympics team for the fourth time. Ingles, in his seventh NBA season, averages 10.5 points and 4.2 assists.
This will be the second meeting between the two clubs. Utah won the first contest 116-92 in Salt Lake City on Jan. 15. Young scored a season-low four points in that game.
–Field Level Media