The Utah Jazz put on their big boy pants and defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 94-85 -- making it now two season sweeps in a row against the bambis. Utah needed this game, because they are still fighting for the NBA Playoffs, while Milwaukee really isn't at this stage after shutting down so many of their important guards. And yes, Bucks fans, I'm not a complete jerk. I know you were playing this game without Michael Carter-Williams, O.J. Mayo, and Greivis Vasquez; and it's a different ballgame with them. It's also a different ballgame for the Jazz if they had some of their athletic, long guards in the line-up too, guys like Dante Exum and Alec Burks. We both can make excuses tonight. I feel like the Bucks will feel like making more of them because they lost at home.
Utah pounced on Milwaukee early, thanks to three pointers from Hayward, Mack, and lots of Favors paintwork. But that lead was squandered just as quickly as Milwaukee's bench was every so much more competent than Utah's patchwork quilt. The first quarter ended 23-22 for the Jazz, and the second quarter was a slugfest with lots of body blows the entire way with no team going on any big runs. The Jazz and Bucks both held serve and finished the quarter 19-19 with the good guys leading 42-41 at the half.
The third quarter is usually where road teams get tired on the second night of a back-to-back. That did not happen. In fact (!) the Jazz went on an extended run after Giannis made two free throws with 6:54 left in the quarter to put his team up by two. The Bucks wouldn't score again until 2;23 left before the fourth quarter as the Jazz would then reel off the next 13 points. Sadly, the game wasn't out of hand, even if this type of run would normally blow open a game. The Jazz would win the quarter 31-18, but a +14 point margin going into the fourth quarter on the road is a rare thing. And something to cherish in Jazzland.
In the final frame the Bucks only caught up because of computer help during garbage time. Joe hot one of his four threes in the quarter and put the team up 90-74 with 5:52 left. Utah would score only four more points, while Milwaukee would charge forward for 11 more. The final score of 94-85 does not indicate how 'in hand' this game was.
Any big surprises tonight? Well, Hood continues to shoot like dog poop -- which means Houston is going to be in trouble (due to the law of the averages). It was great to see Joe Ingles and Trey Lyes go 6/8 from downtown off the bench -- it kinda made up for Raul Neto and Chris Johnson going 1/7. If we are giving props to the Bucks (and it's not illegal to do so...yet), they really did play some nice defense and three of the Jazz starters shot under 40% -- and shot under 40% while taking 13, 13 and 16 shots on this night. They also forced the Jazz starters into 15 turn overs (on only 18 assists, 12 of which came from Mack). This is the Bucks defensive gameplan with all of their length -- and we see why they are good. Even if they aren't good enough to beat the Utah Jazz.
In a way, Milwaukee is in a similar boat to Utah. Young guys. Fun guys. A very solid group with Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, and Greg Monroe with some nice pieces on the bench. Jabari had 19 and 8. Giannis did his usual insane all-around work (12/4/7/2/2). But they really didn't attack Utah's weakness by shooting only 8 three pointers.
(There were more, but kinda ordinary)
You are gonna want to watch these fun highlights...https://t.co/P7QBpl42To— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) March 21, 2016
The Jazz have TWO NIGHTS OFF and get back to work with a back-to-back set @ the Houston Rockets (a must win) and then the @ Oklahoma City Thunder (in a "meh"). I think the Jazz just need to go 3-2 on this trip, and they are poised to do just that -- despite letting the Bulls off the hook last night.