This might be a new-look Bucks team, but the second half in Salt Lake City tonight looked eerily familiar to a year ago, when the Bucks allowed a promising third quarter lead dissolve into an 11-point loss. This time the final margin was 105-94, as Utah's young perimeter players stepped up again in Deron Williams absence. C.J. Miles tallied 25 and Ronnie Price 16, while old reliable Carlos Boozer had his usual 20/11 before departing late with a quad injury.
Andrew Bogut. Having played only 16 minutes last night, Bogut looked fresh in tallying 16 points (6/13 fg) and a season-high 20 boards while handling the unenviable task of marking Carlos Boozer. Offensively he couldn't exploit his size advantage most of the night, but as usual the Bucks' guards didn't give him many easy buckets either (I'm looking at you, Luke Ridnour).
- Richard Jefferson. Jefferson's night seemed somewhat disappointing only because it started with such a bang. Though RJ had just two points in the game's final 20 minutes, he had 23 in the first 28 minutes and was a crucial part of the Bucks' 29-6 run that stretched across the end of the second and beginning of the third quarters.
- Charlie Bell. Bell followed up his 25 point effort in Denver with 15 in Utah, the kind of numbers which would be even nicer if Bell was able to provide them off the bench. Instead, Redd's absence continues to force Bell into major minutes, which to his credit he's made the most of the past two nights.
- .514. Aside from the middle portion of the game where they seemingly lost interest, the Jazz were by far the more active team, creating easy buckets by cutting, stealing, and getting out in transition. It's no surprise then that they made a very healthy 51% of their shots compared to the Bucks' 44%.
- 10. Aside from their number of dunks, the Jazz's activity level also shines through in the block department, where they killed the Bucks 10-1. Most of the swatting was done by Paul Millsap (5) and Andrei Kirilenko (4)--not a bad pair to bring off the bench.
- 13. The Bucks entered the final stanza in a strange position: they were winning. However, the Bucks' two point edge was blown away by the 31-18 edge the Jazz built in the fourth. Overall it was a game of lopsided quarters: the Jazz won the first by 10, the Bucks won the second by 12, and the Jazz took the fourth by 13.
- Bogut's back. Still no signs of greatness in the post (we can dream, right?) but it's difficult to complain when your big man drops a 16/20 line. The Australian anchor looked at home in the state where he played his college ball and once again helped the Bucks win the rebounding battle, 41-37.
- Coming back. It looked like the road weary Bucks were on their way to getting blown out when they trailed by 16 early in the second, but as we've seen a number of times this season they didn't back down. Sessions, Bell, Jefferson, Mbah a Moute and Bogut helped the Bucks climb out of their hole and then some, keying a 29-6 run that turned a 45-30 deficit with 6:54 left in the second into a 59-51 lead with 9:32 left in the third. What happened next? I'll direct you to the "Three Bad" portion below.
- Home cooking. The best part about the Bucks' back-to-back out West? It's over. The Bucks now have a crucial--but very winnable--game Friday against New York at the BC, before heading out on the road again.
Going cold. Basically, the Jazz won because they remembered what they were doing at the outset of the game. Price, Brewer, and Kirilenko dared the Bucks to keep up with them and the Bucks couldn't match the their intensity and athleticism. Instead the Bucks took a lot of jumpshots and couldn't grab quite enough offensive rebounds to make up for their crooked shooting.
- Ridnour. Ridnour couldn't get much going offensively (eight points, six assists, three turnovers) but his bigger problem was that Jazz fill-in Ronnie Price easily outplayed him with 16 points (7/13) and six dimes. Price caused problems with his quickness and generally seemed the more lively of the two starting points.
- Laying off. Fouls have been an issue for the Bucks all season, and they again outfouled their opponent tonight by a margin of 27-20. It's hard to criticize the Bucks for being more aggressive defensively than in the past, but one thing that always gets me is how a Buck defender will often get right up on a man on the perimeter and make himself vulnerable to a dribble drive, even when the offensive player is a much better driver than shooter. While it looks very intense and ball-hawkish, most of the time it just opens up the defender (Richard Jefferson, Charlie Bell, Joe Alexander, to name a few) to allowing a successful drive to the hoop or a foul. Hey guys, sometimes it's OK to dare a mediocre shooter into taking an 18-footer.