By CHARLES ODUM
ATLANTA (AP) — Jordan Clarkson sank five 3-pointers while scoring 23 points and the Utah Jazz protected the NBA’s best record with a runaway 112-91 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night.
Bojan Bogdanovic had 21 points and Donovan Mitchell added 18 for Utah (17-5).
Atlanta point guard Trae Young was held out with a bruised right calf. Rajon Rondo made his second start of the season and did not score. Another starter, forward De’Andre Hunter (right knee), missed his third consecutive game.
John Collins led Atlanta with 17 points. The Hawks have lost three consecutive games and four of their last five.
Utah couldn’t pull away from the short-handed Hawks until outscoring Atlanta 35-26 in the third period.
“In the second half I feel like we started attacking defensively,” Clarkson said. “… The biggest thing that we kind of preach … is getting the stops because that’s going to fuel the offense.”
Without Young, their leading scorer, the Hawks’ offense struggled.
After failing to lead at any point of its 116-92 loss at Utah on Jan. 15, Atlanta led 2-0 when Kevin Huerter opened the game with a jumper. It was the Hawks’ only lead.
Huerter had 16 points.
Utah answered Huerter’s basket with 12 consecutive points. Mitchell had six points in the run.
The Jazz led 45-37 at halftime. The Hawks set season lows for points in any half and by shooting only 30% (15 of 50) from the field in the first half.
The Hawks’ shooting improved only slightly in the second half to finish at 32.7% (32 of 98).
“If you’re shooting 30% for the game, it’s going to be hard to win,” said Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce. “It caught up to us in the second half.”
Jazz: After a slow start, Utah played closer to its standard as the NBA’s best 3-point shooting team. The Jazz made four of six 3s in the third period and 13 of 27 for the game. Clarkson made five of seven 3s. Utah leads the NBA with its average of 16.9 3s per game. Entering the game, Utah’s 355 3s through 21 games were the most in league history. … Rudy Gobert had 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Hawks: Pierce made a plea for fans — and media — to give Young more All-Star support. Young is only sixth among Eastern Conference guards in the All-Star voting. He was a starter in the 2020 game. … Rookie Onyeka Okongwu (left Achilles) did not play. … Capela had 14 rebounds in the first half and 17 overall, extending his streak of games with at least 10 rebounds to 18. It is the NBA’s longest active streak. … Tony Snell made each of his four 3s off the bench for 12 points.
Utah’s Mike Conley went to the bench after he was called for his third foul late in the first quarter, and his return helped fuel the third-quarter surge. “We’re playing at a high enough level to win the game but we can’t rely on that and we know that,” Conley said.
BEST OF THE BEST
The Hawks also have played Philadelphia, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers, teams competing with Utah for the league’s best record. Pierce said before the game he believes the Jazz are “the best team we have played this year, and I say team strongly.”
LOSING AT HOME
The Hawks (10-12) fell to 5-7 at home with their third consecutive loss, each at State Farm Arena against a Western Conference opponent.
Jazz: Will continue three-game road trip when they visit Charlotte on Friday night to complete a back-to-back.
Hawks: Host Toronto on Saturday as they continue a stretch of playing six of seven games at home.