SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—A three-game winning streak didn’t sound like much to the Utah Jazz when they won the first four games of the season.
But now, winning three games in a row is monumental.
“It’s exciting to see that we’re able to string something together,” said Raja Bell, who had 17 points in Utah’s 96-74 win over Atlanta on Wednesday night.
“Some people thought we had nothing to play for at this point and a lot of teams might have come out and not really cared. It’s exciting to see that we do.”
Utah hadn’t won more than two straight since its 4-0 start. In the four months since, the Jazz have struggled through inexperience and injuries and a nasty habit of losing close games at the very end.
Against the hapless Hawks, there wasn’t much of a chance to blow it. Atlanta, playing the final game of a seven-game road trip, has lost 10 in a row overall and 21 straight on the road.
Utah never trailed and swept the Hawks for the second straight season.
“Some nights we really understand it,” Bell said. “The last three nights, the ball moves, we rebound, on defense we help each other out. Those are the things we can do to win games.”
“One of these days, things are going to click and we’re going to put together a full 48 minutes and get a win. Get two wins, maybe three,” Childress said. “Things just aren’t going our way right now.”
Forward Al Harrington finished with 12 points and seven assists, getting some time running the offense during the Hawks’ guard shortage.
“We were short-handed tonight. There’s no question about that,” Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said.
Atlanta is getting closer to the franchise record of 29 straight road losses, set in the 1975-76 and 1976-77 seasons. The franchise record for consecutive road losses in a single season of 16, set in 1975-76, was eclipsed weeks ago.
“Tough trip,” Woodson said. “We’ve led in a lot of the games out on the road, but we just haven’t been able to put 48 minutes together.”
The Hawks lost at Denver on Tuesday night in a game that cost then Lue and Ivey. Lue was suspended for punching Eduardo Najera, and Ivey was knocked out of the game when he ran into a screen set by Kenyon Martin.
And the nine remaining Hawks who dressed for Wednesday’s game had no chance of overcoming Utah’s shooting. The Jazz went 35-for-68 (51.5 percent) from the floor and never trailed in the game.
Utah coach Jerry Sloan also got his 937th win, putting him one behind Red Auerbach for No. 6 on the career list. And Sloan wasn’t celebrating a modest three-game winning streak.
“In the first half we started jacking the ball and not making extra passes, guys looking for something open for themselves,” Sloan said. “That’s not a way to grow. Just a way to try to tread water, which we’ve done a great deal this year.”
Atlanta got within eight at 74-66 early in the fourth quarter on consecutive baskets by Boris Diaw and Gugliotta, but Utah went on a 12-2 run and continued to pull away from there.
Matt Harpring, who was listed as doubtful after spraining his knee against the Clippers on Monday night, had 11 points and six rebounds
Josh Smith had 10 points and seven rebounds for Atlanta.
The Hawks haven’t won on the road since Dec. 10, when they beat Detroit. … Gugliotta played in 25 games for the Jazz last season. … Utah placed forward Carlos Boozer (foot) on the injured list Wednesday. … Gordan Giricek, who was 0-for-5 from the floor, was the only Utah player who didn’t score in the game.