Silly deer, you don't belong up in the mountains. Come down from there.
Milwaukee jogged its way to another loss in the Rockies Wednesday night, squandering an early lead with a rough 2nd quarter that saw the Jazz take the lead for good. Milwaukee led 25-19 after one quarter behind 10 points from Brandon Jennings, who caught Utah's interior defense out of position a few times and glided in for layups. Samuel Dalembert, who started in place of the injured Larry Sanders, did some good work on the offensive glass, and the Bucks were able to do a fair job keeping the Jazz bigs under wraps. Dalembert may not have exploded for a career-high scoring performance, but his game offered across-the-board contributions. He finished with 10 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals, and 4 blocks.
Surprisingly enough, it was the bench units that tore the game from Milwaukee's grasp. Derrick Favors (9 pts, 11 rebs, 3 blks) and Enes Kanter (17 pts, 9 rebs, 5 blks) matched up against John Henson and Ekpe Udoh for a spell, and they were dominant. In the first half, the Jazz grabbed 48% of their own misses, thanks in large part to Favors and Kanter. Normally the Bucks' bench unit is responsible for sparking runs in Milwaukee's favor, but Utah's interior dominance and the relative struggles of Mike Dunleavy (10 points on 3-13 shooting, 3 turnovers) and Beno Udrih (8 points, 2 assists, 2 turnovers) rendered them largely ineffective.
It was frustrating to watch, and obviously frustrating to play--the Bucks' body language through much of the second half suggested they wanted little more than to return to lower elevation. In fairness, the absence of Larry Sanders and Luc Mbah a Moute was felt in a major way, as Jim Boylan was mixed-and-matched forwards and centers to little effect. Dalembert played reasonably decent defense, but he just can't disrupt an offense the way Larry can.
In contrast to the Denver loss, Milwaukee actually managed a pretty solid showing at the free-throw line. The Jazz struggle with defensive free-throw rate, and Milwaukee took advantage. 8 different players made a trip to the stripe, with Jennings leading the way with 9 attempts. But he made only 5, missing back-to-back pairs on the Bucks' first two possessions of the second half. This has me further convinced that Jennings leads all players shooting better than 80% at the line in back-to-back misses.
It's tough to really describe this game in summary. The backcourt wasn't woefully inefficient like in Denver, by virtue of the free throws--Jennings and Monta Ellis combined for 30 points on 25 shots. But the team as a whole shot so poorly (season-low 35.4%) that the free throws just weren't enough. As a result, even an average offensive performance for Utah (104.8 ORtg, slightly below league-average) earned them an easy 14-point win.