The Utah Jazz are tied for the league’s best home record and will next face an opponent they’ve had no trouble beating there for quite a long time.
On Saturday night, Utah (35-20) looks for its 14th straight home win over the Atlanta Hawks, who will try to build off a rare road victory.
The Jazz are 23-3 at EnergySolutions Arena, and stand a good chance of breaking a tie with Dallas for the league’s best home mark. Utah hasn’t lost to Atlanta (22-30) in Salt Lake City since dropping a 121-112 decision on Feb. 13, 1993, when Dominique Wilkins led the Hawks with 43.
Since then, Utah has held Atlanta to 89 points or less in nine games, and won by an average of 13.1 points during the 13-game streak.
The Jazz also have shown they can beat almost anyone at home, where they have won 13 straight since losing to Boston on Dec. 29. During its run at home, Utah has won by an average of 12.5 points.
But Jerry Sloan’s club also has the dubious distinction of being the only first-place team with a losing road record. Northwest Division-leading Utah dropped to 12-17 away from home after falling 114-104 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.
Deron Williams had 26 points and 10 assists while Carlos Boozer had 22 points and 10 rebounds. The Jazz were 0-for-13 from beyond the arc for the second time on the road as they lost for the second time in three road games following a season-high five-game run there.
“It’s not the end of the world. It all depends on how they react after a loss,” Sloan said. “It’s a long, drawn-out season, and hopefully they learn something from it.”
Boozer leads the Jazz with averages of 21.6 points and 10.8 rebounds, and he will try to help Utah avoid being swept in a season series by the Hawks for the first time since 1992-93. Boozer had 39 points and 12 rebounds, but Joe Johnson countered with 26 points and Josh Smith added 18 along with 12 boards and five blocks in Atlanta’s 116-111 win on Dec. 17.
The Hawks (22-30) will be trying to win back-to-back road games for the first time since early December. On Friday, they snapped a season-high six-game slide with a 117-110 win over Golden State behind 27 from Johnson, 18 from Salim Stoudamire and 10 with 14 rebounds from Marvin Williams.
“It was a great team effort,” said Hawks coach Mike Woodson, whose team has dropped 13 of its last 15 on the road. “I thought everybody played and contributed from the beginning to the end.”
Mike Bibby, acquired by Atlanta last Saturday from Sacramento, had 17 points and seven assists in his first win with his new team. Playing with the Kings this season, Bibby averaged 9.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists in two games after missing the first two matchups with a thumb injury.
In 33 career games versus the Jazz, Bibby is averaging 17.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists.