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Jazz, Hawks meet in surprise early showdown

Sportsnaut
Nov 5, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray (5) drives the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans in the fourth quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Larry Robinson-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Larry Robinson-USA TODAY Sports

There is little time for the Atlanta Hawks to celebrate their win over previously unbeaten Milwaukee, as the Western Conference-leading Utah Jazz will come to town for their only visit of the season on Wednesday night.

The Hawks erased an 11-point, first-quarter deficit to blow away the Bucks 117-98 on Monday and win their third straight game.

Atlanta played without leading scorer Trae Young, who participated in pregame warmups but was held out by the staff because of right-shin soreness. His status for Wednesday is uncertain.

The Jazz hammered the LeBron James-less Los Angeles Lakers 139-116 on Monday to extend their winning streak to three games. Utah’s stop in Atlanta is the first game in a three-game road trip.

Utah swept the two-game series with the Hawks last season and has won four straight against Atlanta.

A key for Utah’s fast start has been depth. The Jazz have six players who average in double figures, including Lauri Markkanen, who scores a team-high 21.9 points per game and has five double-doubles, equaling the number he had in the two previous seasons.

Jordan Clarkson had five 3-pointers on Monday to pass Darrell Griffith and take over seventh place on the club’s all-time list with 531. Clarkson scored 30 against the Hawks in their first meeting last season.

“We’ve got literally like 12 guys that can go out there and cause a problem with mismatches or with their abilities on the court,” said veteran Utah guard Mike Conley.

First-year Utah coach Will Hardy said, “They’re playing with a lot of passion and joy out there. The ball’s flying around and they’re happy for each other. Everybody gets to touch it, and nobody feels like they’re not included in the game.”

Atlanta hopes to get Young back on Wednesday. He was injured in Saturday’s game against New Orleans when Zion Williamson fell on his leg. Young leads the team with 28.2 points and 9.4 assists per game.

Rookie A.J. Williams, the team’s first-round draft pick, came off the bench to score a career-high 24 points against Milwaukee, and Dejounte Murray had 25 points and 11 assists to take up the slack for Young.

Atlanta coach Nate McMillan said the team’s success revolves around its defensive effort. The Hawks limited Milwaukee to 40 points in the second half — just 18 in the final quarter.

“We’ve talked about it all season,” McMillan said. “Bringing that attitude and comment to the floor and sustaining it for 48 minutes. We got more aggressive in the third and fourth quarter and were able to beat the best team in the league.”

Griffin said, “It’s a mindset. You’ve got to fight every day. You’ve got to be invested every day.”

Atlanta has scored 100-plus points in its first 10 games, the longest streak to open the season since starting with 11 in a row in 1989-90. Dating to last season, the Hawks have scored 100-plus in 31 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in the league behind New Orleans (37).

Utah played without Jarred Vanderbilt, who missed his second game with right-adductor soreness. The Hawks are still without injured veteran Bogdan Bogdanovic (right knee).

–Field Level Media