The Jazz came out slow tonight and fell to an early double-digit deficit as Giannis Antetokounmpo scored at will nearly every time down the court. He bullied Rudy Gobert in the paint (with a few favorable no-calls and more than a little leeway on a few clear-outs with his shoulder or forearm). Gobert was frustrated, it affected his play, and tonight ended as arguably his worst game of the season (a team worst -36 tonight).
Before we go any further, I should give some props for Milwaukee. This was an incredible game with some fantastic individual (and team) performances for both teams.
Shoutout to Giannis, who played out of his mind tonight. He was dominant. This was an MVP-level performance and he displayed a complete game: 43 points (15-of-26 from the field, 11-of-19 from the free throw line), 14 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, and a block. He was an absolute BEAST tonight. He ate Rudy’s lunch in the paint.
Brook Lopez somehow recorded 7 blocked shots, kicking the ass of Utah’s offense in the first half. He also contributed 16 points and 8 rebounds and was a key factor in most of Milwaukee’s best scoring runs.
Future Jazz man Khris Middleton (please) wasn’t great tonight, yet still put up 29 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. Even on an off night, he still showed why he’s such a valuable player to have.
Joe Ingles put together a fantastic game, with some great pick and roll action and a passing display on his way to 8 assists along with his 14 points. He gave Donovan a few much-needed breaks down the stretch, as he initiated the offense in the clutch a few times.
Derrick Favors was a terror tonight, playing like a man possessed. 23 points, 18 rebounds, and 3 blocks, this was easily his best game of the season. He had some key defensive possessions, especially down the stretch on Giannis. Oh, and he had this monstrous dunk:
Derrick Favors tried to end Ersan Ilyasova with this dunk... pic.twitter.com/ugTaGguqS0— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 3, 2019
This was a game of runs, with each team taking turns going on huge scoring sequences. Milwaukee led by as many as 17, and Utah led by as many as 13, yet the game still went down to the wire.
With 9:39 to go in the 4th quarter, Pat Connaughton scored on a layup to put Milwaukee up 90-73 (the Bucks’ largest lead of the night). It seemed like the game was out of reach - the deficit felt insurmountable. Milwaukee was too strong, too long, too athletic, too good.
Donovan Mitchell had other plans.
He completely took over during the final 8 minutes, sinking a three and following that up by leading the charge along with Favors and Ingles. Donovan scored 19 points in the 4th quarter on his way to a career-high 46 points, along with 6 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 soul crushing block against Giannis.
Every time the game seemed out of reach, Donovan or Derrick made a huge play. Every time Milwaukee responded, the Jazz stood up and delivered blows of their own. Utah scratched and clawed their way back into the game, and a back-and-forth battle ensued. In one of the most exciting games of the season, the Jazz finally took the lead for good with 2:01 left as Donovan pulled down a defensive rebound, threw a lead out pass to Crowder as he streaked down the court, who dumped it off to a cutting Joe Ingles for a layup. Utah would go on to close out the game with some clutch closing minutes.
Some solid bench minutes from Jae Crowder, Royce O’Neale, and Kyle Korver (a game high +30 in +/-) provided a much-needed spark at critical moments in tonight’s unlikely victory. Of the 3, only O’Neale shot the ball well, but Korver provided spacing and a few excellent defensive efforts, while Crowder provided his usual hustle and defense (3 steals).
It was nice to see the Jazz snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in what was one of the best complete games of Donovan’s young career.
#TakeNote and go Jazz!