Fresh off two big wins over the then first-in-the-west Pelicans, the Utah Jazz couldn’t take advantage of an injury-weakened Milwaukee Bucks squad, falling in Milwaukee 123-97.
The Bucks were without its two-time MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and three-time All-Star Kris Middleton. Yet Milwaukee were perfectly capable of scoring, getting step-up contributions from Bobby Portis (22 points, 14 rebounds), Jrue Holiday (21 points, 8 assists) and Brook Lopez (18 points, 8 rebounds). They also got 18 points from rookie MarJon Beauchamp off the bench.
Utah had a chance to seize control in the second quarter. After trailing by 13 points, 42-29, the Jazz went on a 13-0 run to tie it all up at 42 apiece. Giving the lead back temporarily would have been a very understandable thing, maybe give up a basket or two while maintaining a big push forward. But after tying the game up, the Jazz gave up a 12-0 run to the Bucks, completely wiping out the effort they’d put in to getting back in the game.
After re-establishing its double-digit lead in the second, Milwaukee didn’t really relent. The Jazz got close once midway through the third quarter, 67-62, but could never complete the comeback. Utah never held the lead at any points after the first quarter.
The defensive failures of not being able to stop a handicapped Bucks team is one thing, but not being able to score against a side missing a former Defensive Player of the Year is another. The Jazz couldn’t get consistent offense going. Mike Conley continues to struggle shooting in his return from injury. He went 2-for-6 from the field tonight and is 5-of-22 (22.7%) in his last three games. Jordan Clarkson, fresh off a 39-point scorcher of a performance, managed to shoot a solid 5-of-10 overall, but with just 13 points was simply not his impactful self.
There were some positive performances from the Jazz. Malik Beasley is continuing his run of form with 18 points tonight including 6-of-10 shooting from three. Nickeil Alexander-Walker also had another productive night with 14 points and five assists. These performances were nice to have, but without lots of production from the starters it isn’t able to have as much positive effect (especially when the defense gives up 123 points).
The Jazz had a chance to seize momentum in what would normally have been a difficult part of the schedule. But while this is a missed opportunity, there is still a chance for redemption. The first reunion with Donovan Mitchell is up next, which not only has emotional weight, but is also key since it’s against a tough Cleveland Cavaliers team that is currently third in the Eastern Conference.