SALT LAKE CITY — Late in the fourth quarter — after one of the Utah Jazz's many missed shots — a fan leaned over to his seat neighbor and commented about the debacle unfolding in front of them.
"It's almost kind of comical at this point," the fan said.
More spectators at EnergySolutions Arena, however, were booing and bailing early than laughing as the Jazz stumbled to one of their ugliest losses of the season — an embarrassing 110-87 blowout setback to the Atlanta Hawks.
The 23-point shellacking was the second-biggest margin of defeat the Jazz have suffered this season, trailing only the 100-71 New Orleans' no-show.
"There is no explanation," said Jazz point guard Deron Williams, who wasn't exactly guffawing after the loss, either. "Just a good night for them, and a bad night for us."
It was a really good night for Atlanta shooters, and especially from beyond the arc.
The Hawks drilled 14-of-25 3-pointers — after nailing 12 of their first 18 treys — and shot 50.6 percent overall en route to the landslide win.
Utah, meanwhile, struggled to 28-for-71 shooting on a night when Jazz coach Jerry Sloan admitted that "things kind of fell apart for us."
"I think Atlanta played great tonight," Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko said. "They made every shot, especially in the second half. We tried to stop them, but they were good at keeping their composure and executing their offense. We weren't able to stop them."
At least fans got free tacos from the promotion that awards attendees fast food anytime Utah blocks six shots at home.
The Jazz rejected nine Atlanta attempts, including a particularly sweet swat by Gordon Hayward, who slapped away Jamal Crawford's layup try from behind in the first half.
Kirilenko and Williams also scored 19 points apiece.
And that about sums up what went right on this night for the Jazz, who fell to 24-12.
Otherwise, this one was pretty much a combination of everything that's plagued the Jazz this season.
Try a 20-6 Atlanta lead 61/2 minutes into it and a 30-17 deficit for the Jazz by the end of the first quarter on for size.
The Hawks crashed the glass for a 40-34 advantage, no doubt aided by the Jazz going without usual starting power forward Paul Millsap (bruised right hip) for only the seventh time in his career.
The Jazz lost for the seventh time at ESA in 20 appearances, giving them more home losses than sub-.500 teams Memphis and Philadelphia (six home L's apiece).
One thing missing for Utah — other than a whole lot of shots, along with Millsap and Mehmet Okur (back) — was one of their trademark turnarounds.
But the Hawks (24-14) played liked they weren't willing to allow Utah to pull off another comeback on them. The Jazz rallied from down 11 to win in Atlanta during their 4-0 Southeastern sojourn in November.
Joe Johnson, Crawford and crew weren't about to allow Utah a 12th double-digit comeback win.
Johnson led all scorers with 28 points and Crawford came off the bench to punish the Jazz with an excellent effort that included 26 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Those two were a combined 9-for-14 from 3-point land, while reserve Maurice Evans had his own 3-for-5 3-point spree to go with 13 points. Big man Al Horford added 18 points and eight rebounds, taking advantage of the Millsap-less Jazz, who struggled on interior and perimeter defense.
In cruising to the win, the Hawks never allowed the Jazz to lead and outscored their hosts in every quarter. That Atlanta advantage even included a 24-18 edge in the fourth quarter, when Utah usually dominates opponents.
"They wanted it badder than we did," Jazz center Al Jefferson said. "We didn't play hard enough. We was too soft and them guys hit shots. Every mistake that we made, they benefited from. It was just one of them games that we've got to learn from."42 comments on this story
One of those lessons, Sloan said, is that the Jazz can't alter their offense and play what he called "helter-skelter offense" regardless of who's in or out.
"We just don't seem to have success when we do that," Sloan said.
NOTES: The Jazz fell to 5-8 when allowing their opponent to score 100 points or more and dropped to 7-11 when they failed to hit the century scoring mark. ... Williams and Crawford each notched four-point plays by hitting a 3-pointer and an ensuing free throw.