We knew that the Bucks would come out and play hard and they did just that. What we didn't expect was that the worst offensive team in the league would be shooting lights out. Through nearly three full quarters, the Deer got to the free-throw line, nailed their three-point shots, and forced enough Jazz turnovers to keep them in the game.
I didn't think I lost track of the game, but suddenly I noticed the score and found the Jazz up 14, 87-73. It sure seemed like it was closer than that. As it was, the Jazz were in the midst of a 13-1 run that turned a 6-point lead (78-72) into an 18-point lead (91-73).
The Jazz held the Bucks to zero field goals from the 5:33 mark in the third to 7:18 left in the fourth. That's nearly an entire quarter's worth of play. Before that drought, Milwaukee was still in the game, only down 3, 67-70. The Jazz kept it up for the fourth quarter, only allowing 4 field goals. A 34-14 FTA discrepancy kept this from being a bigger blowout.
This is what the Jazz were supposed to do at home against a depleted team. They went a round-about way of doing it, but they were able to put together a strong fourth quarter again and put the game out of reach.
On to some thoughts on the players...
- Earl Watson - Sorry if I've got the Jazz blinders on here, but if Watson, Elson, and Bell all continue to make a significant contribution to the team and they keep winning, wouldn't O'Connor receive some heavy consideration for executive of the year? That's not even mentioning the Al Jefferson deal. I don't know how many other offers Watson had, but KOC was able to convince him to come to the Jazz where he knew he wouldn't get the playing time he had in years past.
He's played a huge part of the recent 6-game win streak along with Ronnie Price. Tonight was his best game of the season with 12 points, 7 assists, and 6 boards.
Deron Williams - I think we're spoiled when Deron's 22, 10, and 5 seems pedestrian and is almost expected every night. Anything less than 20 & 10 seems like an off night for him yet we really don't understand just how little that happens in the league. Only Chris Paul has done that over a season in this millennium (he's done it twice). Deron is close this season.
It was nice that he got a bit of a rest and only played 30 minutes.
- Al Jefferson - He was an efficient 11-14 tonight on his way to 22 & 11. Like most of the team, he was held without a free-throw. The Bucks didn't have anyone inside to guard him and I thought he should have touched the ball each time down the court until they showed that they could stop him.
He's been passing out of the double-teams a lot better lately and I thought we could have had some easier buckets from that.
- Andrei Kirilenko - The defensive player that got AK named to all-defensive teams was in effect against Milwaukee. From the opening tip-off where he stole the ball after the Bucks controlled to multiple AK blocks that only AK can do, he filled up the stat box with 13 points, , 8 boards, 4 assists, and 4 blocks.
He might be leading the team in 3P%, but I still prefer him taking it to the rim and finishing (dunking) than taking open jumpers.
- Raja Bell - He cooled off a lot, putting up a season high in FGAs with 14. He only made 5 of those and seemed to go flat in a hurry after making his first jumpers. A lot of them barely reached the rim.
- Paul Millsap - He had a quiet 9 & 8 and added 4 assists including a nice dish inside to Jefferson.
- Ronnie Price - He was active again tonight with 3 steals with a couple of those leading to quick fast-break points.
He's having a career year so far shooting-wise. His percentages are the highest they've been.
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