by Alma Bean
Feature Image: Photo by Hakim Wright Sr. of AP Photo.
This matchup came as a bit of relief for both teams as they were injury free to start the game. Utah is looking surprisingly good as they are currently on a two-game win streak as they look forward to the return of starting center Jarred Vanderbilt (6 points, 7 rebounds.) Atlanta is still riding the high of beating the number one Milwaukee Bucks by double digits without star Trae Young (22/4/9.)
Free Throws > Three Pointers?
From tip-off, the first quarter felt strange. With the electric crowd in Atlanta filling the arena with their cheers, Atlanta got too aggressive too early. Fouling Utah enough to take 13 attempts from the line, they didn’t have to put much effort into shooting from the field to stay in the game. Lauri Markkanen (32 points, 8 rebounds) accounted for eight free throws and led all scorers with 16 points at the end of the first quarter. Young looked to have struggled to make a basket going 2/10 (20%) in the first. Young wasn’t the only one who struggled for Atlanta to start the game. Atlanta shot 1/5 (20%) beyond the perimeter and 10/29 (34.5%) from the field along with a single free throw. With the weird start, Utah finished the quarter with a 26-22 lead.
After the break, both teams found their rhythm offensively and defensively. Rookie center Walker Kessler (12/6/1) made his first return home to Atlanta this season and played his heart out. Adding to his impressive defensive resume, Kessler got two of his three blocks by the end of the second quarter. The rest of the quarter wasn’t much too marvelous as Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune would say.
“Honestly, no one else is playing that great, but when you have the Finnisher [Lauri Markkanen] on your team, you can just rely on your star to get you wins.”Andy Larsen speaking on the lackluster first half between the Utah Jazz and Atlanta Hawks via Twitter. -@andyblarsen
The first ended in Utah’s favor as they went into the locker room with a 63-54 lead.
E is for Effort
With the lead going into the second half, seemed as if Utah either was tired or forgot how to contest. Being outscored 32-12 with 2:00 left in the third quarter, looked as if Utah forgot the game plan that got them the lead. Utah tried to rely on the three-ball but never could find the net as they managed to shoot 1/7 (14.3) for the quarter. After a scary quarter for Utah, being outscored 36-22, Atlanta went into the fourth quarter with a 90-85 lead.
As true professionals, Utah put the third quarter behind them and pushed toward their goal of beating Atlanta. Starting the quarter on a 10-4 run, Atlanta felt the pressure from Utah quickly needing to take a timeout to regroup with 8:37 left in the game. Atlanta continued to fight back after the timeout, but the valiant offensive surge from Utah ultimately got their tenth win of the season 125-119. This makes Utah the first team in the league to reach the 10-win mark.
The Utah Jazz (10-3) will get a two-day break before traveling to continue their four-game win streak against the Washington Wizards (5-6) on Saturday. Tip-off will be at 4:00 PM MST on AT&T SportsNet.
(1) Utah Jazz on Twitter: “We got about 30 people here together total, so it’s good to get a win in our hometown.” @sportsiren on the 🎤 with the #WalkoffInterview presented by @lhmauto https://t.co/sI6ouIP8KT” / Twitter