Last night’s game between the Utah Jazz and Atlanta Hawks was supposed to be an intriguing game between two of the NBA’s finest teams. Instead, it was a surprising one-sided yawner for the road team Hawks. The Jazz didn’t hold a lead in the entire game, and they never even had one of their valiant efforts at a comeback down the stretch of the game.
This one-sided bludgeoning can be attributed to one main reason: 3-point shooting. If you look at Utah’s 3-point shooting, you will see that the Jazz shot 7-14 from downtown, which is a very high percentage at 50%. However if you look over at Atlanta’s 3-point shooting, you will see that the Hawks not only shot a better percentage at 56%, but they also made double the amount of 3′s with 14 (a 21-point differential). Those 14 3′s by the Hawks helped the Hawks score 110 points, and it helped keep them distanced from the Jazz throughout the contest.
The two players who really thrived for Atlanta were Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford, who scored 28 and 26 respectively. Each player shot at least 50% from the field, and they combined for 9 of Atlanta’s 14 3′s. Some nights the opponent is just on fire. Last night was one of those nights.
On the other side, the Jazz were led in scoring by Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko who each dropped 19 on the Hawks. For Kirilenko it was actually one of his best games this season as he shot over 50% from the field, shot a perfect 3-3 from the land of plenty, had 6 rebounds, and had 3 blocked shots. This all-around performance from AK is one that the fans have long been waiting for, but unfortunately it came in a lopsided loss and will probably go under the radar.
Paul Millsap, Utah’s starting power forward, did not play in the game due to a bruised hip. In his place was Francisco Elson, who normally doesn’t have trouble offensively. In this game, though, Elson did not score a point as he only attempted one shot in 18 minutes. Also, Elson was only able to collect one rebound, which is well below what the Jazz would get out of Millsap on an average night. Obviously having Millsap could have a made a difference in the game for the Jazz, but I don’t see it as making much of a difference in the outcome. When a team is shooting as well as the Hawks did last night, the addition of a power forward isn’t going to make that big of an impact.
The final thing I want to talk about is the bench play. The Jazz bench did not play poorly as they scored 27 points, but there was nobody who came off the bench that really took charge of the game. Usually that guy would be CJ Miles, but he had an off night with only 6 points, which is about half of his season average. As for Atlanta, Jamal Crawford was able to score 26 points by himself off the bench, and the Hawks scored 45 bench points in total. When you compare those numbers to what the Jazz did, there is no comparison. Coming into the game, I said if Miles was able to offset or outplay Crawford, then the Jazz would be in a very good position to pull the game out. Well, being outscored by 20 doesn’t constitute offsetting or outplaying him, and hence the Jazz got devoured by the Hawks.