Atlanta cruises past hapless Utah
by Charles Odum
Associated Press Sports Writer
December 21, 2013 12:28 AM | 722 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lou Williams follows through after hitting one of his six 3-pointers Friday. Williams scored a game-high 25 points off the bench as the Hawks trounced Utah.
<BR>Associated Press photo
Lou Williams follows through after hitting one of his six 3-pointers Friday. Williams scored a game-high 25 points off the bench as the Hawks trounced Utah.
Associated Press photo
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ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks are slowly picking up the ball-movement lessons Mike Budenholzer learned as a longtime assistant with the Spurs.

Those lessons were more than enough to overwhelm the Utah Jazz.

Lou Williams scored 25 points and the Hawks continued their offensive upswing as they rolled to an easy 118-85 victory over the Jazz on Friday night, winning their third straight and for the fourth time in five games.

The Hawks had 32 assists, adding to their NBA lead and bringing a smile to the face of their first-year coach.

“It’s an indication they’re just getting a better and better understanding of the ball movement and how we want to play,” Budenholzer said. “Passing and hitting the open guy just becomes something that’s expected.”

Atlanta set a scoring high with its 124-107 win over Sacramento on Wednesday night and has topped 110 points in three straight games.

Al Horford, who had 23 points, has been a key in the recent flurry of high-scoring games. He has averaged 23.6 points in his last five games.

Williams, who has played in only 14 games in his return from knee surgery, took extra shooting practice after scoring only two points in 20 minutes in Wednesday night’s win over Sacramento.

“I’m glad it paid off,” Williams said. “It was one of the nights we had everything clicking.”

The Hawks never trailed and pushed their lead to double digits for good in the opening period. They kept up the pressure, outscoring Utah in every period and making 52.3 percent of their shots (45-of-86) from the field.

Budenholzer said the most encouraging sign was “not so much putting them away, but just continuing to play the way we play, just doing the things we did to establish a lead. (Friday) was a step forward in that direction.”

Jeff Teague had nine points and eight assists.

Horford was resting when the Hawks took an 85-58 lead into the final period.

“Our energy was the difference,” Horford said.

The Jazz agreed.

“It’s a mental thing,” said Utah’s Derrick Favors. “We’ve just got to come out with the energy and the attitude like they had against us (Friday).”

It was a letdown for Utah coach Tyrone Corbin following a win at Orlando on Wednesday night.

“I thought we didn’t come out with the sense of urgency we’d been seeing,” said Corbin, a former Hawks player. “I thought we’d turned the corner, I felt like, the way we played in Orlando the other night. I was looking for that effort. We just didn’t have it from the beginning (Friday).”

Enes Kanter had 13 points and 13 rebounds for Utah (7-22). Alec Burks also had 13 points. Trey Burke, who scored a career-high 30 points against Orlando, was only 1-of-8 for two points.

Atlanta’s Paul Millsap had 14 points and 10 rebounds against his former Utah teammates.

The Hawks took their largest halftime lead of the season, pulling ahead by 21 points to lead 55-34 at the break. Horford had 14 points in the half.

Kyle Korver extended his NBA record by making a 3-pointer in his 96th consecutive game. His made the first of his two 3s with 4:24 remaining in the first period.

Utah had a scare midway through the third quarter when Gordon Hayward was slow to return to his feet following a collision with Teague as the two were reaching for a loose ball. Hayward remained in the game following a timeout and finished with 11 points.

Jeremy Evans, the 2012 slam-dunk competition champion, missed a dunk and then landed hard on his back with 7:53 remaining, giving the Jazz another scare. Following a brief delay, Evans remained in the game and had 10 points.

NOTES: The Jazz are 0-11 on the road and 1-13 overall when trailing at halftime. ... Atlanta leads the NBA with its average of 25.3 assists per game. ... Hawks G Cartier Martin (sprained left ankle) and F Gustavo Ayon (left ankle) have missed five straight games. ... Williams was 6-of-10 from 3-point range.

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