Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — EnergySolutions Arena was full of Jr. Jazz basketball players Wednesday night as the organization commemorated the 30th anniversary of the youth hoops program.
The way the Sr. Jazz players played, it might have been tempting for Utah's coaching staff to ask the youngsters to suit up.
They might need to anyway if the highly paid Jazz players keep succumbing to injuries as they have been.
Utah — playing without injured Paul Millsap and Mo Williams and watching Al Jefferson and DeMarre Carroll get hurt — certainly was missing some of the exuberant energy the kids would've shown on what Gov. Gary Herbert officially declared to be Jr. Jazz Day in the Beehive State.
For the second game in a row, Utah fell at home to an Eastern Conference playoff team, but the Jazz weren't anywhere near forcing overtime in this 102-91 blowout loss to the Atlanta Hawks like they did before stumbling against Boston on Monday.
Despite losing their third straight, the Jazz (31-27) lucked out a bit as Houston (31-28) remained a half-game behind them in the Western Conference playoff standings after losing to Milwaukee.
"It's very frustrating," Jazz sixth man Gordon Hayward said. "Especially when we had an opportunity to kind of move up in the West a little bit and take care of this home court that we usually do a good job of defending, but for whatever reason, these past two games we just haven't."
"I'm concerned about every loss," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We've got a game here Friday. We'll look at this and see what changes we can make, what we have to improve on and get ready for Charlotte."
The injury-plagued Jazz aren't sure just who they'll have available for that game.
Millsap missed only the 14th game in his seven-year career after spraining his left ankle Monday against the Celtics. Late in Wednesday's game, Jefferson sprained his left ankle after rolling it on Derrick Favors' foot.
Both Millsap and Jefferson are considered day-to-day.
Forward DeMarre Carroll returned to action and sparked a 10-2 run in the fourth quarter after tweaking his left knee. The Jazz called it tendinitis, but Carroll said it might've been hyperextended. He will undergo an MRI today.
"I'm not going to stress too much about it," he said. "I pray hopefully it's good."
The Jazz again fell apart in the third quarter, as they've done in their last two losses. Against the Hawks, they didn't score for the first four-and-a-half minutes of the second half, only scored 18 points in that period and fell behind by as many as 20.
As far as the Jazz were concerned, the wrong Al had a big game.
Atlanta center Al Horford scored a career-high 34 points with 15 rebounds and five blocked shots. He went berserk on the Jazz in the fourth quarter, when he poured in 14 points.
Horford nearly single-handedly squelched the Jazz's last serious run by blocking a shot and then going the other way for a dunk. Utah, which was on a 10-2 run at the time, could've gotten to within six points, but Horford stretched the Hawks' lead to a more comfortable 10 points.
Incidentally, it was Jefferson's shot that Horford swatted on a night the Atlanta big overshadowed Big Al, who had a strong showing of 26 points and 11 rebounds.
Favors, starting for Millsap at power forward, also had a nice night with 17 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots.
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