After finishing a perfect four-game road trip with an impressive comeback, the Utah Jazz may be returning home as the NBA’s hottest team.
In Salt Lake City, the Atlanta Hawks have been ice cold for more than 17 years.
The Hawks will have a tough task Monday night if they hope to end their 15-game losing streak at Utah, which can grab a share of the Northwest Division lead with a fifth consecutive win.
Even a 25-point second-half deficit couldn’t derail the short-handed Jazz, who beat Portland 93-89 in overtime Sunday for their 17th win in 19 games, putting an exclamation mark on a trip that included victories at Houston and New Orleans.
Boozer tied the game at the end of regulation with a putback and finished with 22 points and a career-high 23 rebounds, giving himself six double-doubles in seven games since returning from a calf injury.
Even though Utah (36-19) shot below 40 percent from the field Sunday for the first time since a 91-89 loss at Memphis on Jan. 8, the Jazz have still hit 50.9 percent of their shots during the 17-2 stretch since that defeat, vaulting up the standings to third place in the Western Conference.
They trail first-place Denver by one-half game in the division.
Atlanta (34-20) was on the opposite side of a big comeback Sunday, blowing a 17-point fourth-quarter advantage in a 108-104 loss at Golden State, and the Hawks hope they’re not headed in the wrong direction after dropping three of four.
Orlando’s win over Cleveland earlier in the day helped drop the Hawks 2 1/2 games out of first in the Southeast Division. A big reason for Atlanta’s stumble has been its recent woes on the road, where the team has dropped the last two and eight of 12.
Salt Lake City isn’t a promising place for the Hawks to end their four-game trip. They haven’t won in Utah since Feb. 13, 1993, when Dominique Wilkins scored 43 points in Atlanta’s 121-112 victory.
The skid continued with a 108-89 drubbing one year ago Tuesday.
Atlanta will hope to harness some momentum from its 96-83 home win over the Jazz on Dec. 18. The Hawks held Deron Williams(notes) to a season-low two points on 1-of-8 shooting, prompting the point guard to apologize to Utah’s fans and admit he “played like crap.”
Boozer had just six points.
“Whatever their scheme was, (it) worked,” Boozer said.
While the Jazz hope to get Mehmet Okur(notes) back after he missed the last two games due to the birth of his son, they may be without Andrei Kirilenko(notes), who left Sunday’s win due to back spasms. Kirilenko has shot 60.4 percent from the field since regaining a starting role Jan. 11.