John Amis, Associated Press
Atlanta's Josh Smith drives past Utah's Jarron Collins on Monday.

ATLANTA — They missed key fourth-quarter free throws. They made critical late-game turnovers. They allowed an opponent to shoot lights out while self-destructing down the stretch.

Sound familiar?

It sure does to the Jazz, who opened a four-game Eastern road trip Monday night by falling 116-111 at Atlanta in much the same fashion as when they were muddling through a recent six-game losing streak.

"This is pretty much identical," coach Jerry Sloan said, "to what we've run into."

And yet, despite it all, the 14-12 Jazz had ample opportunity — something else common to the skid that screeched to a halt only with last Saturday's victory over hapless Seattle.

"We definitely had chances to win this game as well," power forward Carlos Boozer said after a 39-point, 12-rebound night that left him two points shy of matching his career scoring high.

"It's frustrating," point guard Deron Williams added after Utah blew what had been a nine-point advantage in the third quarter, "especially because we ... let them right back in the game, and let them get control."

Because they did the 12-12 Hawks snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Jazz, Utah's string of consecutive road losses moved to six and everyone from Sloan on down was left to ponder why all that went wrong did.

"They wanted the ballgame a little bit more than we did," the Jazz coach said.

Or at least the Hawks figured out a way to take it.

Though Utah was ahead 97-96 after an Andrei Kirilenko dunk, Atlanta — which shot 57.6 percent from the field — reeled off a 14-3 run that had the Hawks up 110-100 with just more than two minutes to go.

Jazz back-breakers during that stretch were a pair of 3-pointers — one by 17-point, 14-assist double-double man Anthony Johnson, the other from 26-point team-high scorer Joe Johnson.

It was enough to make a certain point see Johnsons who weren't even there.

"Guys hit big shots — Eddie Johnson, Anthony Johnson, Joe Johnson," Williams of the Hawks, who haven't had an Eddie Johnson on their roster since 1986 — and no longer have DerMarr, George or Ollie Johnson, for the matter either.

That, though, was hardly the Jazz's only mistake of the night.

Three missed free throws during the aforementioned run — one each by Boozer, Jarron Collins and Ronnie Brewer — proved costly.

So did a pair of turnovers in particular, one when Kirilenko tried forcing a pass inside to Boozer with 3:14 remaining and the other when Williams dropped an errant pass back to Boozer a couple possessions later.

"You never know what happens. That's why those things end up being important," Sloan said of the missed freebies. "You think at the time it's not a big deal, but there's always a chance if you'll still play. And I thought we played and hung in there."

The Jazz, in fact, got back to within three after C.J. Miles knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 114-111 with 14.9 seconds to go.

And after Brewer stole Anthony Johnson's ensuing in-bounds pass, Miles had a chance to tie the game with a scrambling trey try from the right corner.

"I had a good look at it," Miles said, "but Josh Smith came running and he got off the floor and I had to float it a little bit and I had to put more arch on it. It floated to the right on me."

After two Atlanta free throws and a couple errant Kirilenko passes rendered the comeback moot, what seemed to bother Sloan more than Miles' late miss was everything else that went wrong in the fourth quarter.

"We've got to ... help each other," the Jazz coach said when asked why the Jazz's late-game offense has been breaking down so much recently. "I didn't think we did as good a job screening people to try to get open shots. We slipped screens way too much. You're looking for something quick.

"We lose confidence in our offense," Sloan added, "and try to go maybe a little bit too much within ourselves — and that doesn't give you an opportunity like you'd like, because it's awfully hard to offensive rebound if you take tough shots."

Williams concurred.

"We've been taking a lot of quick shots down the stretch," he said. "It's something we need to work on. We need to work on executing for the whole game, anyway. Going through our plays, I feel like we don't get through a lot of our plays a lot of times."

That, Williams suggested, is reflective of both "lack of concentration" and "lack of discipline."

Sound familiar?

It sure should to the Jazz.


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