Hawks finally solve JazzDec 18, 2007 - 4:27 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
ATLANTA (Ticker) - The Atlanta Hawks finally figured out a way to beat the Utah Jazz.
Joe Johnson scored 13 of his team-high 26 points in the fourth quarter and Anthony Johnson added 17 and dished 14 assists to lead the shorthanded Hawks to a 116-111 victory over the struggling Utah Jazz on Monday.
Marvin Williams had 21 points, Josh Smith added 18 and rookie Al Horford recorded a season-high 17 for Atlanta, which snapped a nine-game losing streak against Utah.
"I knew since I've been here, we haven't beaten them," Smith said. "We're just growing up and maturing."
The Jazz wasted a magnificent performance from Carlos Boozer, who tallied a season-high 39 points and grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds.
Anthony Johnson helped Atlanta break away with a 15-3 run in fourth quarter. The diminutive point guard drained two 3-pointers and dished a key assist to Horford to give Atlanta a 110-100 lead with 2:10 remaining.
"I didn't shoot well in the month of November," Anthony Johnson said. "Now I'm starting to get in the gym and shooting the ball more. Tonight they were dropping for me."
"He has been fantastic for us," said Hawks coach Mike Woodson of Johnson. "He's a little gimpy with a hamstring pull, but he's playing good. Tonight, I played him some 40-something minutes, which is a lot of minutes for him. But he responded big-time."
Horford, the third pick in the 2007 draft, capped the run by connecting on 1-of-2 free throws to give Atlanta an 11-point lead.
"I thought our guys came out tonight and played a solid 48-minute ballgame," Woodson said. "It was back-and-forth, and then we made the plays from the four- or five-minute mark on to secure the win."
"Joe Johnson and Anthony Johnson hit some really big shots for them down the stretch," Jazz point guard Deron Williams said. "We had a couple of turnovers, and we didn't make our free throws. You can't win games like that. We let them right back in the game and then they got control of the game."
Utah whittled the lead down to 114-111 on C.J. Miles' 3-pointer with 14.4 seconds remaining and gave the Hawks had a scary moment when Ronnie Brewer stole an inbounds pass and found Miles in the right corner for a 3-pointer.
But the shot rimmed out, Atlanta grabbed the rebound and Zaza Pachulia and Josh Smith connected one free throw apiece to seal the win.
"I was so mad, because every time I looked over, no time went off the clock," Marvin Williams said. "That two seconds was up there forever. Thankfully, we were able to pull it off."
Entering this one, Atlanta had not had success against Utah, winning just twice in the season series in the past 10 years, and had not beaten the Jazz since October 31, 2002 - a streak that many of the Hawks weren't even aware of.
"Really," Horford said. "I didn't know that. Wow. I'm 1-0 against them. I feel pretty good."
"I really wasn't (aware)," Joe Johnson added. "I don't really look at a lot of stats that way. None of that really matters. I just go out and play hard."
But Utah has been struggling on the road, losing five straight entering this one. Atlanta added to the Jazz's woes despite dressing just nine players and playing most of the first quarter without its lone 2006 All-Star, Joe Johnson, who picked two early fouls. Smith also sat out most of the fourth quarter after picking up his fifth foul.
"We've just been in a really bad funk," Boozer said. "For some reason, we're just a different team on the road. Give the Hawks credit. They took it to us tonight."
The Jazz started out strong, scoring 10 of the first 12 points before Atlanta answered right back with a 12-3 run to take a 14-13 lead with 5:53 remaining in the first quarter on Anthony Johnson's driving layup.
Utah extended its advantage to 27-19 on Brewer's 17-foot jumper with 2:16 remaining in the first, but the Hawks clawed back in the second quarter, cutting Utah's lead to 53-51 at the break.
The young Hawks continue to set milestones that none of their counterparts have since this side of the millennium.
Atlanta (12-12), league's youngest team with an average age of 25 years and 193 days old, clawed back to the .500 mark with the victory.
"We had nowhere to go but up," Joe Johnson said. "It couldn't get much worse. It's big. It shows the growth of our team and the growth of a lot of people."
It is the latest in the season that the Hawks, the poster child for futility over the past eight playoff barren years, have been at or above .500 since the 1998-1999 club finished the season at 31-19.
That team was the last one to make the playoffs.
"If we end up playing .500 basketball, everything over that is icing on the cake," Woodson said. "If we play .500 basketball, we give ourselves a chance to make the playoffs in the East."
Brewer scored 19 points and Andrei Kirilenko had 16 for Utah, which has lost seven of its last eight games.
ATLANTA 116 FINAL
Dec 17 9:43 PM
ATLANTA 86 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 17 8:56 PM
ATLANTA 51 HALFTIME
Dec 17 8:09 PM
ATLANTA 25 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 17 7:37 PM
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