The Utah Jazz have had trouble stringing together victories this season. They hope they’ve finally started to reverse that trend.
The Jazz look to extend their first winning streak in more than a month when they host the league-worst Atlanta Hawks.
The Jazz beat the Los Angeles Clippers 87-86 on Monday, following up Sunday’s 99-92 victory over Houston. The consecutive victories were Utah’s first since beating San Antonio and Phoenix—owners of the NBA’s top-two records—from Jan. 10-12.
“If they would have made that shot, I might have went crazy,” said McLeod, who finished with 18 points and eight assists.
Raja Bell added 14 points, Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur each scored 11 and rookie Kris Humphries had a career-high 12 rebounds for Utah, which has not won three in a row since opening the season 4-0.
“That’s fun. Those type of games are fun to play in, No. 1. And even more fun to win. Because we had to fight to get it done,” Bell said.
The win was the 936th for Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, who passed Dick Motta for seventh place on the all-time list.
Carlos Boozer, Utah’s leading scorer, missed his fifth straight game with a sprained right foot. Forward Matt Harpring, who had 10 points and seven rebounds, injured his right knee in the first quarter but played until the end of the third period.
An MRI Tuesday revealed inflammation in the knee, and Harpring is doubtful for Wednesday’s game.
Harpring, who played at Atlanta’s Georgia Tech, missed the final half of the 2004 season after having surgery on the same knee. He ranks third on the team with 13.3 points per game.
Guard Tyronn Lue was ejected for throwing punches at Denver’s Eduardo Najera after Najera stole the ball from him. Rookie Josh Smith scored nine points but spent part of the night arguing with coach Mike Woodson, who was unhappy with his attitude.
The Hawks waived nine-time All-Star Gary Payton, whom they acquired last week at the trade deadline as part of the deal that sent leading scorer and rebounder Antoine Walker to Boston. Payton never reported to Atlanta and sought a buyout of his contract by Tuesday, the deadline for players to clear waivers and become eligible for a playoff roster.
“Everything’s fine,” general manager Billy Knight said. “It’s good for Gary, it’s good for us. We want our young players to get playing time, and he wants to be a free agent and make the playoffs.”