Jazz regain top spot in the West, reserves help Hawks down Suns

SALT LAKE CITY: Jordan Clarkson #00 of the Utah Jazz high fives Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Utah Jazz during the game against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. – AFP

LOS ANGELES: Jordan Clarkson scored a team high of 30 points as the NBA-leading Utah Jazz won their third straight with a 126-94 NBA victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday in Salt Lake City. Bojan Bogdanovic finished with 24 points for the Jazz, who cruised to victory despite being without their one-two guard punch of Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley.

The Jazz improved to 48-18 on the season and the win — combined with the Atlanta Hawks 135-103 victory over the Phoenix Suns — allowed them to reclaim first place in the NBA and top spot in the Western Conference. “Finding our rhythm, it’s great. Right now we are trying to figure out how to play without Donovan and Mike we are trying to run more. So it’s good for me to get my confidence back and be ready for the playoffs,” said Bogdanovic, who has averaged 25.8 points in his last five contests.

Utah is a game ahead of Phoenix in the West standings with six games left in the regular season. Luka Samanic scored 15 points for the Spurs, who are in tenth spot in the West and trying to hold onto that last position for the play-in tournament. “You go through adversity sometimes,” Spurs player DeMar DeRozan said. “You can’t let it diminish your confidence. We still got six games left. Still six opportunities for us to be able to put ourselves in a position to keep playing.”

Utah recorded their second straight double-digit victory over the Spurs in three days as they shot 55 percent from the floor. Jakob Poeltl scored early in the contest to give San Antonio a 10-8 lead but it was the only time the Spurs would be on top all game. Elsewhere, the Hawks bench scored a combined 74 points as Atlanta continued its domination over Phoenix with a 135-103 rout.

Reserves Lou Williams and Danilo Gallinari scored 16 points each for the Hawks, who have won seven consecutive home games. “We definitely needed to bring the energy and intensity for 48 minutes playing against the best team in the league,” said Gallinari. “It was a great challenge and I thought we did a great job.”

Clint Capela finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds and Trae Young chipped in 16 points and 12 assists in the win. Devin Booker scored 30 points to record his sixth game out of the last seven with 30 or more points. Mikal Bridges delivered 18 points for the Suns, who had their five-game win streak snapped. The Hawks went on a 16-0 run in the fourth quarter as the Suns didn’t score their first field goal of the quarter until there was 2:33 left in regulation time.

Fourth-quarter blitz
Atlanta extended their lead to 25 points — 113-88 — when Onyeka Okongwu finished off an alley-oop pass. Okongwu finished with 14 points. The win gave Atlanta a split of the season series. Also, Nikola Jokic had 32 points and 12 rebounds, Austin Rivers scored 25 points against his former team, and the Denver Nuggets beat the New York Knicks 113-97.

“Some games I don’t score in the first half and then I score a lot in the second half,” Jokic said. “The team was finding me, I was making shots. It just happened like that.” Michael Porter scored 17 points and Facu Campazzo had 16 points, nine rebounds for Denver, who improved to 44-22. The Nuggets are tied with the Los Angeles Clippers for third in the Western Conference. – AFP


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