The Atlanta Hawks bench may get a much needed boost on Friday. Marvin Williams and Maurice Evans may be back in uniform when the Hawks take on the Utah Jazz on Friday night at Philips Arena (7:00 PM, ESPN, 97.9 FM). If the two suit up, it will be the first time since the season opener that the Hawks are completely healthy.
Williams has missed Atlanta's last four games with a knee injury, while Evans has not played since the season opener against the Memphis Grizzlies due to a knee injury. Atlanta has struggled without Williams, winning just once in four games.
For those of you trekking down to the Bulb, please note the start time for this one. Since the game is on the so-called "Worldwide Leader of Sports" and is part of ESPN's Friday night doubleheader, the start of the game is 7:00 PM, not your typical 7:30 PM Friday night start time. Allow extra time driving to Philips Arena in that nasty rush hour traffic.
With that public service announcement out of the way, let's look at the matchup. Let's just say that the Jazz are a bunch of drama kings.
Utah (5-3) is looking for its fourth straight win after overcoming a pair of double-digit deficits in their last two games. The Jazz trailed the Los Angeles Clippers by 18 before gutting out a double-overtime win and fell behind the Miami Heat by 22 on Tuesday before ultimately prevailing, 116-114, in overtime. They also trailed the Orlando Magic by 18 before closing the game by scoring 48 of the game's last 68 points in a 104-94 win.
The folks at STATS, LLC say that it's the first time since the advent of the 24 second clock that a team has overcome a double-digit deficit at the half to win the game in three consecutive contests.
Go figure. It's one of those pesky point guards that was passed over in the draft in favor of Marvin Williams -- Utah's Deron Williams -- that has been huge in those comeback efforts. He posted 30 points and 14 boards in the win over the Magic and is averaging 21.5 points and 10.2 assists over Utah's first eight games.
Meanwhile, Atlanta (6-3) is in the midst of a three-game losing streak after starting the season with six straight wins. The Hawks dropped a pair of four-point decisions to the Phoenix Suns and the Magic before blowing a 13 point lead and trailing by as many as 30 in their 108-91 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.
Jamal Crawford has struggled for the Hawks of late. The NBA's reigning Sixth Man of the Year is shooting just 31-percent over his last three games. The bench as a whole struggled against their Milwaukee counterparts, who outscored the Atlanta bench by a 33-14 margin in the second quarter on Wednesday.
The Hawks hope that the return of Williams and Evans will stabilize the Atlanta bench, which needs to get back to its normal rotations if the Hawks are going to do much of anything this season.
Atlanta will look to avoid its first three-game home losing streak since the 2007-08 season against a Jazz team that it has had no problem beating on its home court. The Hawks have soared over the Jazz the last three times these teams have faced off at Philips Arena.