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Tired Jazz falter down the stretch against Hawks

Mitchell scored 30-plus points for a second straight game, but to no avail

NBA: Utah Jazz at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz failed to go 2-0 on an Eastern Conference back-to-back road trip against two lottery-bound teams, falling to the Atlanta Hawks 117-114 Thursday evening.

The first half, and especially the second quarter, didn’t go well for Utah. Offensively, nothing went particularly awry. The Jazz shot a respectable 44.2 percent from the field and an even more respectable 41.2 percent from beyond the arc. It was just that the Hawks shot 54.5 percent from deep and 50 percent overall.

Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t rookie sensation Trae Young that burned the Jazz. Sure, he did lead Atlanta in points with 23, but he didn’t make a 3-pointer until the fourth quarter and was 8-of-22 from the field. Young did considerably more damage with his crafty passing, tallying 11 assists. Dewayne Dedmon and Taurean Prince did the damage from 3-point range, going a combined 6-of-7 from deep in the first half.

By the end of the opening 24 minutes, the game was practically a disaster for Utah’s hopes of a higher playoff seeding. However, a strong third quarter pushed Utah ahead. At least for a while.

The Jazz kicked off the second half with a 9-0 run, stretching the run to 20-6 at one point, leading to a 37-21 third quarter. Mitchell led the way offensively by making six of his first seven shots of the latter half and ended up scoring 12 of his game-high 34 in the third alone.

The third ended up being a lone bright spot in an ugly game for Utah, however, as, after scoring 37 to start the half, the Jazz put up just 23 in the third while giving up 31 to the Hawks. Mitchell shot a lackluster 3-of-10 in the fourth, failing to capitalize on his own hot hand from the third. Mitchell finished the game having taken 32 shots to get his 34 points.

Utah had a chance with six seconds left to tie the game, but a foul by Vince Carter behind the 3-point line but before Kyle Korver had a chance to get off a shot effectively iced the game since the Hawks were up three.

Several Jazz players struggled, most notably Jae Crowder, who didn’t make a field goal all night (0-for-6) and only scored on a pair of free throws. Crowder was also -17 on the night, by far the worst of any Jazz player (next closest was Ricky Rubio at -5)

Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert both had respectable nights, though to no avail as far as the win column is concerned. Favors recorded his second 15/15 game of the season, totaling exactly 15 points and 15 rebounds along with two steals and a block. Gobert finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The loss drops Utah from the fifth seed to the sixth seed. They have the same overall record as Oklahoma City and San Antonio. Utah lost the tiebreaker to the Thunder (0-4 this year) and won the tiebreaker over the Spurs (2-1).