Jazz Edge Hawks to Snap Slide
Utah 111, Atlanta 101
ATLANTA, March 17 (Ticker) -- Rookie Deron Williams and the Utah Jazz made sure their streak ended and the Atlanta Hawks continued theirs.
Williams scored a season-high 28 points and Mehmet Okur added 24 and 10 rebounds as the Jazz snapped their three-game slide with a 111-101 triumph over the slumping Hawks, who have dropped four in a row.
"I wanted to get a win, I tried to do whatever I can," Williams said. "My shot felt good tonight. I let it go and got the easy bucket. Early on, it gave me a lot of confidence."
"He played extremely well," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "He didn't play like a rookie tonight. He made shots, he got the ball where it needed to go. He did a good job defensively. It was a well-rounded game for him."
The Jazz held a seven-point advantage to open the fourth quarter, but Josh Smith and Josh Childress scored on back-to-back possessions to help the Hawks cut the deficit to 91-89 with just over eight minutes remaining.
Okur scored on an easy layup and Williams drained a wide-open 3-pointer from the left wing to rebuild the lead to 101-93 with 4:25 to go.
"(Williams) played well, and he got it done for them," said Hawks forward Al Harrington, who scored 19 points. "He hit all the big shots, got into the paint when he needed to, to find guys and get easy looks. He did a good job tonight."
A basket by Harrington made it 104-99 with 1:47 remaining, but Carlos Boozer - who missed two free throws on the previous possession - sank a reverse layup. Williams made two key foul shots in the waning moments to seal the victory.
"We needed to hit free throws and make stops at the end, and we did that," Williams said. "The game went down to the end and we finished it well."
Boozer had 21 points and 11 rebounds and Andrei Kirilenko added 18 and eight assists for Utah, which shot 55 percent (43-of-77) and made 8-of-15 3-pointers.
"We needed this win bad," Williams said. "We needed this win and we need the next one. The win means a lot to me, that's what we needed was a win."
With the win, Utah (31-34) closed within two games of the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"Hopefully, this gives us some confidence to try to get better, that's the biggest thing," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "We've had pretty good success when we run our offense properly. Teams that play playoff-type basketball know what tough execution is and how to do it."
Joe Johnson scored 25 points and Harrington and Zaza Pachuila added 19 apiece for the Hawks, who shot 44 percent (35-of-78) but were outscored 54-40 in the paint. Atlanta has dropped seven straight against Utah here, dating to October 31, 2002.
"We're playing well enough to stay in games," said Woodson. "But it's what we do early, middle of the game. ... When you give up so many layups to teams, it just takes the starch out of you defensively. And that's how it's been the last two games. I don't care who you play, you're not going to beat anybody giving up that many layups."