George, Sexton help Jazz edge Hawks 124-122 in Snyder's return to Utah


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Keyonte George scored 25 points and Collin Sexton added 21 to lead the Utah Jazz to a 124-122 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.

George and Sexton combined for 11 assists to help the Jazz snap a three-game losing streak. Both players have had four 20-point games in March and this one helped Utah survive another game without Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson in the lineup.

George is quickly evolving from a spot-up shooter into a multi-dimensional scoring threat. The first-round pick only made one 3-pointer against the Hawks, relying on going downhill and finishing at the rim.

“Right now, I feel good about where my game is going,” George said.

If he keeps it up, George could be the a long-term answer at point guard — a position run by committee for the Jazz at times earlier in the season.

“Tonight is just a glimpse into what Keyonte’s future can be,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “Finding different ways each night to impact the game and not being so reliant on one thing is what gives Keyonte the opportunity to become a real star in this league.”

John Collins had 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Johnny Juzang made five 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 19 points off the bench.

Utah finished with 56 points in the paint and 24 fast-break points.

“That was an emphasis for us, getting in the paint and trying them as much as we could,” Collins said. “Sometimes you can’t control guys that are on fire, but we do what we can to mitigate.”

Dejounte Murray led the Hawks with 33 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. De’Andre Hunter chipped in 27 points, Jalen Johnson added 26 and Clint Capela had 15 rebounds to go with 10 points.

Atlanta lost its third straight game in Quin Snyder’s return to Salt Lake City despite shooting 20 for 39 from 3-point range. Snyder coached at Utah for eight seasons from 2014-22.

“We didn’t come ready to play defense for the whole game,” Murray said. “We had spurts where we were awesome but then a lot we weren’t talking to each other.”

Atlanta trailed much of the second half but cut the deficit to a basket after Johnson drilled a 3-pointer with 8:15 left. Sexton and Juzang countered with three unanswered baskets to push Utah’s lead to 116-106 a minute later.

The Hawks rallied one more time. Murray knocked down back-to-back 3s to trim Utah’s lead to 124-122 with 1:18 remaining. He had two cracks at a go-ahead basket in the final minute but missed both.

Vit Krejci missed another potential game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds following a Jazz turnover.

“That one stretch where they went on a run, knocked some shots down, I thought we did a great job of keeping our composure, coming back, and putting ourselves in a position where we had a chance to win the game,” Snyder said.

Collins had four baskets and five rebounds during the first quarter to put Utah in front early. The Jazz extended their lead to 39-28 on back-to-back baskets from Walker Kessler and Talen Horton-Tucker in the opening minute of the second.

Atlanta erased the deficit and scored on six straight possessions to take a 62-59 lead just before halftime. Capela fueled the run with a pair of dunks.

Utah quickly regained the lead after halftime and led much of the third quarter after shooting 65% from the field. George and Brice Sensabaugh combined for 20 points in the third quarter to pace a 37-point quarter for the Jazz.

“They’re for sure not scared of the moment,” Hardy said. “They have the utmost belief in their ability. Those two are developing a pretty good communication on the court.”