The Utah Jazz wrapped up their season long six game home-stand with a 5-1 record, finishing off the falling Milwaukee Bucks 84-81. Utah has now won five games in a row, and well, Milwaukee has now lost five straight, and 14 in a row in Utah. Both teams were playing without key rotation players, but all things considered the Jazz had an overt advantage in the paint, and with how Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood are playing right now, you almost have to take them in the head-to-head match-up against any other starting SG/SF tandem. Point guard remains a problem, and key area of attack -- and Bucks coach Jason Kidd knew that.
Early on the Jazz defense (and offense) wasn't clicking and Jerryd Bayless looked to be heading for "one of those" nights -- he would ONLY end up scoring 15 points. He clearly won the back-up point guard debate against Trey Burke (3 mins), and Erick Green (3 mins). Utah resorted to more and more Joe Ingles in this game, and it's clear that Quin Snyder isn't giving up on the triple wing, at least not until Dante Exum can return.
This was a closer game than it needed to be, mainly because Utah wasn't making any shots (39.0 FG%, 29.6 3PT%, 69.6 FT%), and Milwaukee was doing much better in direct comparison, including making 50.0% of their three point attempts. (And again, a huge part of that was Bayless going 5/6 from deep.) And after being behind by four at halftime you could tell that Snyder was going to find ways to motivate his guys.
Whatever it was, it worked. The Jazz only allowed 37 points after half (37 points in 24 minutes), and Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert were just shutting Milwaukee down. The starting bigs combined for 14 defensive rebounds, 8 blocks, and 7 steals. For the entire game they also summed to 27 points, 23 rebounds, 2 assists, 7 steals, and 8 blocks. That's massive for such a slow paced game. They collectively also shot 6/10 from the free throw line. Not great, but better than average.
As a point of direct comparison, Jabari Parker and Greg Monroe finished with only 16 points, 15 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 steal, and 2 blocks. No disrespect, but our bigs are better.
Our wings were also better in the head to head, with Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood scoring a combined 41 points off of 32 shots. That's a better and more consistent offensive force than Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo going for 32 points off of 24 shots. Yes, the Bucks were more efficient, but efficiency is great unless your team can wollop the others on the offensive glass for 12 extra possessions. Speaking of extra, the Jazz finished this game with 15 steals and forced 20 turn overs.
Defense looks a lot better when your team is finally ONLY missing two rotation players.
Solid win all around, and it's great that the Jazz were a few bad calls away in the Detroit game from going 6-0 on this home-stand. Utah is now a win away from being .500 on the season, and look to be in control (for now) of the 8th seed in the West.
The Jazz play next, tomorrow night at the Phoenix Suns.