Yes, the Utah Jazz did indeed beat the Milwaukee Bucks, like last week (Jan 2nd 2014). Anyway, we live in such an age where you can talk to people of other teams in a daily basis. So we got Dan Sinclair of Brewhoop to discuss this game with us. Let's get right to it.
1. What happened that was out of the ordinary (good or bad, or just something that you don't see in an average Bucks game)?
Dan: The Bucks were one of the better three-point shooting team in the NBA early on, fueled by the hot shooting of Gary Neal and O.J. Mayo. They've fallen off considerably since then (now 22nd in the NBA in 3P%), but they hadn't been this bad from behind the arc yet this season. Milwaukee finished just 4-22 (18.2%) from deep, bad news for a team with few other methods of manufacturing points.
2. What happened last night for Milwaukee that was normal for this season?
Aside from losing the game? Well, they failed to close things out (or complete a comeback, more accurately) after getting the score close late in the game. After a Larry Sanders layup cut the Jazz lead to three with 3:41 to go in the game, Utah scored 6 straight points while the Bucks proceeded to miss three straight contested three-point shots. The Bucks' only points the rest of the way came from free throws by Luke Ridnour and a garbage three from Giannis Antetokounmpo.
3. What worked / what did not work?
The Bucks owned the paint in the early going, scoring their first 16 points near the basket while working the pick and roll about as well as they've done all season. Milwaukee's 44 points in the paint last night handily beat their season average of 37.8. Larry Sanders looked especially good down low, sinking all 7 of his shot attempts (and both free throws) for a team-high 16 points. Sanders got back to using his length and quickness to score by moving into space and actually catching dump-off passes, which freed him for plenty of good looks against a Jazz defense that lost track of him curiously often. But this is a team typically reliant on the long ball, and it completely failed them last night. Gary Neal, O.J. Mayo, and Brandon Knight, purportedly the Bucks' best perimeter scorers, combined to shoot 2-13 from downtown. The Bucks simply couldn't keep pace when Utah's threes started falling, and it didn't help that the Jazz were a perfect 17-17 at the line.
4. Were injuries a factor in your opinion (you can be a homer here if you want)?
Just as Milwaukee is getting most of its players back, they lose their most productive guy to date, John Henson. Henson's absence was certainly felt, likely more on defense than offense, since the Bucks were able to score inside pretty well last night. But Henson is the closest thing the Bucks have to a "dump in" post presence, so any added attention the Jazz might have paid him could have freed Milwaukee for more (and better) three-point shots.
5. All things considered, is this game a good representative sample of your team this season? Or is your team better or worse than they actually played last night?
Any game in which the Bucks lose is a pretty good representation of the team at this point. West-worst Utah looks like it might be better than 4-5 Eastern Conference teams, and Milwaukee has lost to pretty much all of them, so it was basically just more of the same. The Bucks still can't score consistently and Larry Sanders hasn't yet transformed them into an above-average defensive unit (who knows if he can). The good news, and really the only news people seem to care about these days, is that Giannis played another complete game with 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. He struggled on defense for most of the night, though, missing rotations and getting blown by on the perimeter on multiple occasions.
What about the Jazz? Well, the Milwaukee game was special in that our guys actually won a game. While that may not appear to be too fair (we're essentially a .500 team now in recent weeks), but over the course of the season it is notable. The Jazz dominated the offensive glass (24.3 OREB%) which is lower than our season average (26.3%), but still significantly huge in this game. The second shots really helped the Jazz in this game. The obvious point is that we had a 20-10 game (21 and 11) from Derrick Favors. This shouldn't be something to point out, but sadly, this season we've not had a lot of 20-10 games from anyone. Favors only has four 20-10 games. Shouldn't he have had more? Well, only if we go to him on offense I guess.