Boozer was in the lineup for the first time since injuring his left knee in November and had a quiet night with two points and five rebounds in Utah’s 108-89 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday.
Boozer, who missed 44 straight games because of a strained tendon and knee surgery, had plenty of help on Monday.
“I was a little rusty—a lot rusty for me, but that will come with just playing. It had been three months,” Boozer said.
Boozer’s return gave the Jazz their full lineup for the first time this season—all the starters and all the top reserves were healthy and in uniform. Once Boozer gets back up to speed, the Jazz feel they’re deep enough to make another run in the playoffs.
“We can be a dangerous team, but it’s just one of those things. We have to have that effort every night,” said Matt Harpring, who scored 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, when he also had to be restrained after a flagrant foul.
Utah’s reserves scored 58 and allowed the Jazz to use Boozer sparingly in his first game since Nov. 19.
“That second group we had out there on the floor, they did a great job defensively,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said.
Joe Johnson had 15 points to lead the Hawks, who lost their 15th straight game at Utah.
Al Horford had 14 points and six rebounds for the Hawks, and Josh Smith scored 11 before he was ejected for the hard foul on Harpring with 8:40 left to play. Harpring was still upset from taking an elbow to the face earlier in the period from Johnson and charged Smith as soon as he got back on his feet.
Harpring had to be held back until Smith finally made his way to the locker room. With the Jazz already leading 99-77, the play was the highlight of the fourth quarter.
Harpring made his free throws, then added a few more points before getting a warm ovation when he was pulled in the final minutes.
“He really didn’t go for the ball too much,” Harpring said. “It’s fine. I was just a little bit” angry.
Atlanta fell to 1-3 on a five-game Western Conference trip, which wraps up Wednesday in Denver.
The Hawks were outrebounded 42-31, including 14 offensive boards by the Jazz, and had 20 turnovers.
“The results of the game were an embarrassment,” Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. “This team plays hard and they’re very physical. And if you don’t meet them head on, then they will beat you by 20 points.”
Actually, the Hawks managed to get the final margin to 19 points after falling behind by 26.
Woodson said point guard Mike Bibby was feeling sick and finished with no points and just one assist.
“They completely took it to us. They were making all of the hustle plays,” Horford said. “Right now we are going through a little struggle.”
Atlanta shot 50 percent, but couldn’t catch up to the Jazz after a torrid second quarter. Korver hit two 3-pointers, Harpring had a pair of layups and Andrei Kirilenko converted a three-point play as the Jazz opened the second on a 17-5 run.
Korver had been 5-for-25 from the floor since the All-Star break, but made his first five on Monday.
“They’ve all been there, just right off the back of the rim. It’s just been so frustrating,” Korver said. “It just messes with your head a little bit. The first couple went down and I was just like, ‘enough of this. Let’s go.”’
The Hawks cut it to 61-52 on a dunk by Maurice Evans, but the Jazz answered with another rally starting when Boozer got his first field goal on a goaltending call with 9 seconds left. After Johnson missed a shot for Atlanta, Utah’s Ronnie Brewer had time to get off one final shot and made it from just inside half court to put the Jazz up 66-52 at halftime.
Utah shot 70.7 percent (29-of-41) in the half. Korver was 5-for-5 and Williams went 6-for-8 in the half with eight assists.
Flip Murray scored 13 and Evans had 12 points for the Hawks. … The Hawks haven’t won in Utah since Feb. 13, 1993. … Williams had his sixth straight double-double. … Smith was 0-for-6 from the foul line. … The Jazz made six of 13 3-pointers.