Jazz-Hawks Preview

The Atlanta Hawks aren’t just winning games, they’re rolling

over their opponents lately.

Atlanta tries to win its sixth straight Friday night when it

closes its three-game homestand against the Utah Jazz.

The Hawks improved to 18-6 with Wednesday’s 110-97 victory over

Memphis. Joe Johnson hit 10 of 16 shots and scored 26 points in

three quarters as all Atlanta’s starters played fewer than 33

minutes.

“We get a chance to sit back and watch for a change, just

relax,” said Johnson, who is shooting 53.0 percent from the field

during the Hawks’ winning streak.

Atlanta’s starters, though, have received plenty of rest lately

as the team has won its last four games by an average of 23.3

points while scoring 117.3 per game in this stretch.

While first-year Hawk Jamal Crawford has provided the biggest

boost off the bench – averaging 16.3 points – Maurice Evans is

enjoying a more prominent role lately. After scoring 25 total

points during a 12-game stretch from Nov. 13-Dec. 5, he is scoring

17.0 points per game on 65.8 percent shooting in his last four

contests.

“I’ve been trying to find my role, find my niche,” said Evans,

who scored a season-high 22 in Sunday’s win over New Jersey while

starting for Marvin Williams. “We’ve got a lot of great players, a

lot of great athletes. It’s tough to get everyone involved.”

The Hawks’ bench has accounted for 44.8 percent of the team’s

points over the last four games.

While Atlanta looks to improve upon its Eastern Conference-best

11-2 home record, Utah (15-10) is looking for continued success on

its season-long, five-game trip.

Coming off Monday’s 110-108 loss to Minnesota, the Jazz opened

their eastern swing Wednesday with a 108-92 victory over the Nets.

Carlos Boozer had 26 points and 10 rebounds – his eighth

double-double in 10 games – and Deron Williams notched his fourth

straight double-double with 20 points and 14 assists as Utah shot

56.3 percent and won for the eighth time in 11 games.

“We’re happy to get the first win of the road trip,” said

Boozer, averaging 21.8 points and 9.7 rebounds in his last six

games in Atlanta. “We learned our lesson the other night against

Minnesota. Nothing against them, but they took it to us and won the

game. We made the mistake by not being prepared for Minnesota. We

knew we had to get this road trip off to a good start.”

While Utah has won 15 straight at home against Atlanta, the Jazz

have dropped back-to-back games at Philips Arena. In the teams’

last meeting in Atlanta, the Hawks won 100-93 on March 11 behind 31

points and nine assists by Johnson and 22 points and 12 boards from

Josh Smith.

Williams had 20 points and nine assists for Utah while Mehmet

Okur scored 14 points with 10 rebounds.

Atlanta is scoring 112.5 points per game at Philips Arena – the

league’s third-best average at home. Utah, meanwhile, is averaging

96.2 points on the road compared to 105.3 at home.