Hawks > Road Trip Begins with Win

| January 3, 2015

Hawks Jazz 010215

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks are one of the NBA’s best shooting teams. They can play a little defense, too.

Teague scored 25 points, and the surging Hawks held Utah to 37 percent shooting in a 98-92 victory on Friday night.

Atlanta is one of two NBA teams which rank in the top 10 in field-goal percentage, 3-point shooting percentage and free throw percentage. But its defense played a key role in the road win against the Jazz.

“We just acted defensively,” Teague said. “Getting deflections. Getting steals. It led to some easy offensive points for us.”

The Hawks (24-8) have won three straight and 19 of 22. Coupled with Toronto’s 126-105 loss at Golden State, Atlanta moved into the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Paul Millsap had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Al Horford scored 13 points in Atlanta’s sixth consecutive win over a Western Conference opponent.

Gordon Hayward scored 18 points and reserve Dante Exum added 13 points for the Jazz. Utah (11-22) was swept in the season series against Atlanta for a second consecutive year.

“We did a lot better in the second half,” Hayward said. “It’s another game — we’ve had many of these before — where we get down in a hole, we fight back, we make it interesting and we fall short.”

The Jazz put together a 12-1 run to make the game close late in the fourth quarter. Hayward drilled a 3-pointer and drove for a layup on back-to-back possessions to help Utah close to 91-87 with 3:38 remaining.

But Carroll and Teague then had back-to-back jumpers to put the Hawks ahead 95-87 less than a minute later.

“Our focus was to just finish the game out,” Horford said. “We had been playing so well all game, so we just wanted to come out of here with a win.”

Atlanta used its stout defense to get off to a fast start. Utah did not make a basket for nearly 6 1/2 minutes in the first quarter, and the Hawks opened a 28-9 lead on Millsap’s 3-pointer with 3:41 remaining in the period.

But the Jazz battled back. Exum’s 3-pointer with 2:04 left sparked a 19-3 run that carried over to the second quarter. Seldom-used guard Ian Clark capped the lengthy spurt with a 3-pointer that trimmed Atlanta’s lead to 31-28.

The Hawks had a 46-42 lead when they scored on their final five possessions of the first half — capped by three unanswered baskets from Teague — to take a 57-45 advantage into the locker room.

They increased the lead to 76-56 in the third on three free throws from Teague and Millsap after Joe Ingles got called for a shooting foul and technical foul.


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