Horford leads Hawks past Jazz 102-91
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — With an array of jumpers and layups, Al Horford put on a scoring clinic.
He saved his best for the fourth quarter.
Horford scored 16 of career-high 34 points in the final period and grabbed 15 rebounds, while Josh Smith added 24 points 14 rebounds and seven assists to help the Atlanta Hawks hold off a fourth-quarter rally by the Utah Jazz in a 102-91 victory Wednesday night.
“We worked too hard to give it up,” Horford said. “It was one of those things where you don’t want to lose, so you kind of do whatever you have to do.
“We just kept fighting and I kept fighting.”
Jeff Teague had 19 points and seven assists for Atlanta, helping the Hawks win their fourth straight game over Utah and move to 3-0 on their current road trip.
Horford made it possible with his big fourth quarter that snuffed out several Jazz rallies late in the game.
“He was good,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “We were running plays through him. When the shot wasn’t there, he was passing the ball. He got everything within our offense. Guys were doing a good job of finding him. He’s really playing at a high level now - an extremely high level.”
Al Jefferson led Utah with 26 points and 11 rebounds, while Derrick Favors had 17 points and 15 rebounds. It wasn’t enough to prevent the Jazz from losing their second straight home game and third straight contest overall.
Atlanta took control when the Jazz opened the second half by missing their first eight shots. The Hawks went on a 10-2 run and took a 66-50 lead on a pair of free throws by Horford.
The Hawks appeared to be on the verge of securing a blowout road victory when they extended their lead to 80-60 on a pair of free throws from Zaza Pachulia with 1:24 remaining in the quarter. But the Jazz finally came to life on offense toward the end of the third quarter, going on an 11-2 run that culminated in a three-point play by Favors to cut the Hawks’ lead to 82-71.
Still, Utah was left with far too much ground to make up in a short amount of time.
“We’ve got to be able to pick it up in the third,” Jazz guard Gordon Hayward said. “We can’t be flat like we were. Hopefully, we can change that in the next game.”
DeMarre Carroll kept the Jazz within striking distance late into the fourth quarter. Carroll twice helped Utah cut the lead to eight — first on a 3-pointer and then on a steal that he fed to Favors for a dunk that trimmed Atlanta’s lead to 92-84.
The Hawks held the Jazz in check down the stretch, however. Horford made a pair of baskets to put Atlanta back up by 12. Then, Smith hammered home a dunk after Favors hit a pair of free throws to cut it to 96-89 in the final minute.
“We just kept digging and kept playing hard,” Smith said. “Anytime they went on a run, we tried to silence them with a layup or a big shot.”
The first quarter played out with Smith and Jefferson trading baskets. Smith made a hook shot to spark a 10-3 run and capped it with a dunk that gave Atlanta an early 18-11 lead. Jefferson helped rally the Jazz by making four straight baskets. The final one, a double-pump short jumper, left the Hawks clinging to a 27-25 lead with 20.5 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Jefferson tallied 11 points in the quarter, while Smith finished with 10.
Atlanta built the lead back up early in the second quarter, extended the advantage to 39-30 as Horford made three baskets over a 3-minute span. Utah answered with a 9-0 run — capped by a driving layup from Alec Burks — to tie it at 39.
Horford and Teague combined to score 11 points in the final 2:30 of the first half to help Atlanta take a 56-48 lead going into the locker room.
“We had good shots,” Favors said. “They were just going in and out. Overall, we needed to get our energy up.”
NOTES: Favors started for the Jazz after Paul Millsap did not dress because of a sprained ankle. It was just the 14th game Millsap has missed in seven NBA seasons. ... Randy Foye made his 129th 3-pointer of the season, tying the Jazz single-season franchise record set by Mehmet Okur in 2006-07. ... Atlanta has won five consecutive games, scoring more than 100 points in each. The Hawks are 24-7 this season when they surpass 100. ... Devin Harris had 12 points and two assists in his first game in Utah since being traded to Atlanta in the offseason.