Both the Utah Jazz and Atlanta Hawks were among the most talked about teams leading up to last week’s trade deadline. And surprisingly enough, both teams opted against making any moves. The former did it because they liked their roster’s potential; the latter because they are playing some great basketball. After Wednesday, the Jazz will have to re-group, while the Hawks will continue on with their heady play.
Atlanta came out and played an impressive game in defeating Utah 102-91 Wednesday. The Hawks imposed their will early on both ends of the court, and as a result, they never really were threatened in the second half.
Hawks Starters: The Hawks' bench produced a paltry eight total points, but the reserves did not come close to adversely affecting the game’s outcome thanks to the Atlanta starters’ strong outing. They played the majority of the night and each were integral to the victory.
The Hawks' frontcourt was dominant. Al Horford’s steady defense was complemented by his offensive output. Behind a bevy of smooth jump shots, the Atlanta center connected on 14 of 22 from the floor en route to a 34-point evening. He also added a yeoman-like 15 rebounds and five blocked shots. He was the key for Atlanta all night.
His partner-in-crime, Josh Smith, was a difficult matchup for the Jazz. Will Paul Millsap out, Smith used his agility and floor game to win the mismatch against Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. He ended up with 24 points, 14 caroms and seven assists.
In the backcourt, the speedy and crafty Jeff Teague sliced and diced his way to the hoop repeatedly. His dribble penetration proved deadly, as he consistently set up easy baskets for his teammates and himself. He had a 19-point, seven-assist effort. And not to be outdone, former Jazzman Devin Harris was steady with 12 points and three steals.
This and That:
• Seeing as the plus-minus stat has been a popular topic of late for the Jazz, it should be noted that all five Atlanta starters sported a plus-10 mark. Conversely, four of the five Utah counterparts were minus-11 or worse.
• Favors was a positive for the Jazz, as he worked his way to 17 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots in 38 minutes.
• The young backcourt of Alec Burks and Gordon Hayward has been dynamic of late. Wednesday, their effort was more subdued. They combined for just 15 points.
• Atlanta outscored the Jazz by eight from the free-throw line. Utah’s 10 missed free throws are hard to ignore, including four errant attempts late in the fourth quarter.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.