The Utah Jazz have not been a great road team this season, but they will start their latest trip with a head of steam.
The Jazz own a three-game winning streak as they begin a three-game trip at the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday.
Utah is 16-11 overall, but only 5-8 away from home. It will start the trip against an Atlanta team that has fallen into last place in the Eastern Conference at 6-22. This is the first meeting between the two teams this season after they split two games in 2018-19, with the home team winning both games.
Utah is coming off a 109-102 home win over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, while Atlanta was blown out 143-120 in New York by the Knicks, the team with whom it had been tied in the cellar.
The Jazz had two 30-point performances against the Magic. Bojan Bogdanovic reached the 30-point mark for the sixth time this season, and Donovan Mitchell achieved it for the seventh time. They became the first Jazz duo to each score 30 in a game since 2008, when Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer accomplished the feat.
“There’s a great connection between us, especially at the end of games,” Bogdanovic said.
It was Mitchell’s thunderous dunk in the fourth quarter that enlivened the team to go on a 19-5 run over the final 4:31 to beat the Magic.
“On a play like that, you can’t lay it up, you’ve got to go up there and try to dunk it,” Mitchell said. “I really don’t know how it happened. I didn’t dunk in warmups. I just didn’t have any legs.”
Utah’s Rudy Gobert has also been on a roll. He had 12 points and 19 rebounds against Orlando, giving him a double-double in 11 straight games.
However, point guard Mike Conley appears headed for a longer absence after returning against the Magic and aggravating a hamstring injury. According to The Athletic, he is expected to miss multiple games and perhaps multiple weeks.
Atlanta has lost five straight, and being blown out by the lowly Knicks caused coach Lloyd Pierce to spend additional time after the game with the team. The rebuilding Hawks endured a 10-game losing streak in November.
“As expected, a very frustrated room,” Pierce said. “It’s tough when you come off an effort you have on Sunday against the Lakers (a 101-96 loss) and you come here. We couldn’t hit first, we played on our heels, we let a lot of things impact our effort.
“That’s the biggest thing I keep talking about. Competitive spirit, trying to find that effort. We don’t have it right now.”
Guard Trae Young tried to keep Atlanta in the game. He scored 22 of his 42 points in the first half, but the Knicks had a 22-point lead at intermission, and the Hawks never serious made a run. It was the third 40-plus point game this season for Young, who averages 28.3 points.
Atlanta’s situation could improve shortly. Forward John Collins has two more games to serve on his 25-game suspension for violation of the NBA drug policy. Collins, the team’s second-leading scorer (17) and leading rebounder (8.8), is eligible to return on Dec. 23.
Veteran Atlanta forward Vince Carter will move into fourth place for career games played on Thursday. He tied John Stockton with 1,504 on Tuesday. Carter, who scored 15 points on Tuesday, needs 46 to pass Alex English for 19th on the career scoring list.
–Field Level Media