Bucks (15-22, 5-17 road, 10th East) @ Jazz (21-17, 15-3 home, 9th West)
Bucks Stats: Offense 19th (101.1 pts/100 poss), Defense 27th (107.3), Rebounding 15th (.503 rr), Pace 22nd (93.3)
Jazz Stats: Offense 4th (108.2 pts/100 poss), Defense 20th (104.2), Rebounding 4th (.513 rr), Pace 9th (96.8)
Bucks Injuries: Desmond Mason is out another month or so with a torn ligament in his left thumb. David Noel still hasn't played since injuring his wrist in November.
Jazz Injuries: Ronnie Price is out with an ankle sprain.
06/07 Series: Despite nearly blowing a 21-point halftime lead, the Jazz overcame Michael Redd's 57 points to beat the Bucks in Milwaukee 113-111 on November 11. The Jazz cruised in the rematch in Salt Lake City, winning 101-88 behind Carlos Boozer's 30/13 night.
- The Jazz have won three in a row, all at home, their most-recent victory coming 119-115 over Orlando on Saturday night. Memo Okur has struggled this season but had 29/8 to pace the Jazz.
- The Jazz's 21-17 record would be good enough for fourth in the East, but out West they currently find themselves as playoff outsiders for the moment. Deron Williams (19 ppg, 9.1 apg, .511/.409/.774 shooting) and Carlos Boozer (23.1 ppg, 10.8 rpg, .547 fg%) once again give the Jazz a formidable inside-outside combo. While Jerry Sloan-led teams have typically been known more for their defense, the modern day Jazz instead rely on a prolific offense and great rebounding to offset a defense that will give up points. They do however rank third in the league in forcing turnovers.
- It's easy to overlook the contributions of Ronnie Brewer, but he's having a fine sophomore season, averaging 12.9 ppg on .538 shooting. That means both members of the Jazz's starting backcourt shoot over 50% from the field.
- Okur is averaging just 12.8 ppg and 5.5 rpg while shooting 41% from the field, though he has put up 19.0/8.2 in five games in January. He averaged 18.0/9.1 and 17.6/7.2 the past two seasons, so the Jazz could certainly use more from the big Turk. The Bucks will likely use Yi to cover Memo on the perimeter while Bogut will try to handle the more post-oriented Boozer.
- You have to like the Jazz's acquisition of Kyle Korver from Philadelphia for Gordon Giricek. While the Jazz rank second in the league in fg% (.490) and fifth in free throws made per game (21.9), they've been near the bottom of the league all season in three pointers made. Korver has been a bit slow to find his touch in Utah, but he scored 20 against the Bucks at the Bradley Center the last time he visited with Philly.
- Mike Redd excelled as a sub in Los Angeles on Friday (22 points in 25 minutes), but he looked rusty the following night in his return to the starting lineup against Phoenix, shooting just 5/16 from the field and turning the ball over late with the Bucks down 4 in the final minute. The Bucks lost 122-114, though they did score a season-high thanks to 56% shooting and 10 triples. The Jazz will likely force the Bucks to run a bit more than they have this season, something they've looked more comfortable doing of late.
- While Redd and Mo Williams have been the only consistent performers for the Bucks all year, they're getting some help of late. Andrew Bogut was the man in Phoenix, scoring a career 29 on 14/16 shooting in addition to 11 rebounds. He's now averaging 17.3 ppg and 9.9 rpg in the month of January, though he's also been lit up the past two games by Andrew Bynum and Amare Stoudemire.
- Meanwhile, Charlie Bell and Bobby Simmons combined for 35 points on 15/22 shooting in Phoenix to continue their run of solid play. The pair has been vastly improved this month, with Bell scoring 13.6 ppg on .500/.464/.800 shooting and Simmons contributing 10.3 ppg and 5.1 rpg. To put that in perspective, the pair had not had a single game in the 2007 calendar year where they both amassed double digits in scoring. So yes, them averaging 23.9 ppg between them is a huge boost to the Bucks' cause.
- Given the team's record, Krystkowiak has occasionally been scoffed at for his resolute adherence to rewarding "energy." You'd think Larry K worked for Exxon Mobil or Wisconsin Electric given the frequency with which he talks about it, but there's something admirable about it, too. It's kind of old time-y and college-ish, but in a league where everyone complains about lazy players there's something to be said for accountability. And with the Bucks getting healthier, Tom Enlund writes that LK has no intention of getting away from a meritocratic approach to minutes.
"I'd like to think we've got five guys who are out there laying it on the line. We talked about it the other day. . . . Hard work isn't going to guarantee success but I know with our team, without it, we don't have a chance. That's a given for sure. And if we're not bringing that to the table, shame on me if somebody's playing that's not laying it on the line."