A 101-99 loss the the Utah Jazz Thursday night dropped the Milwaukee Bucks' overall record to 21-21 on the season, including a disappointing 9-10 at home. Below are five observations from the game that Milwaukee at one point led 75-64 and had a chance to win in the final minute.
1. Jason Kidd noted beforehand that the Bucks are not a 100 points per game team. Thursday, they needed to be one, finishing the game just one point off the 100 mark and three away from winning the game. The Bucks haven't scored 100 points or more in 10 straight games.
"We play both ends, so we're proud of that." Kidd said before the game. "For us, we're not an offensive juggernaut team where we're going to score 110 and give up 105. A lot of the games have been close ... again, we're not a team that's going to score 100 or something points a night."
The Bucks had five chances to get that total and win, but they squandered repeated opportunities in the final minutes. The key misses came on rim outs when Brandon Knight had one fall out the glass while driving at the basket and when Jared Dudley had a three from the top of they key bounce out to the left. Knight and Giannis Antetokounmpo also had good looks on long jumpers that wouldn't go down in the final two minutes.
"The momentum shifted in their favor. We were able for a second to keep it close, but we couldn't finish out the game." Knight said. "I had a couple, and I'm used to making those shots."
"The basketball Gods got me, huh?" Dudley joked after the game.
"Good shot, in and out, I thought it was good. We had three or four great looks and we'll take them every time," Dudley said.
2. We knew coming into the game that Utah would work through their big men Enes Kanter and Rudy Gobert, and they did just that. In the first half, the two combined for a strong 22 points and 20 boards. Kanter finished the game with 23 points (8-for-15) and 16 rebounds, while Gobert had 14 (5-for-7) and 10. Milwaukee was a bit short up front, with John Henson getting himself in foul trouble (he picked up three fouls in six minutes), and Kenyon Martin only getting two minutes of action. While deep post position was part of the problem, a more consistent issue was containing Utah's big men out of P&R actions.
"We started with no discipline defensively," said center Zaza Pachulia.
3. The Bucks were down 26-16 at the end of the first quarter after making just 8-of-22 shots (36.4 percent) from the field. But they bounced back in the second quarter thanks to their superb bench, with O.J. Mayo and Jared Dudley both scoring 10 points and Johnny O'Bryant adding four. Still, Dudley was disappointed in the end at the effort from the unit down the stretch, as the Jazz
"That's on the bench (losing the lead)," Dudley said, "the starters gave us a lead at the beginning of the fourth. We had opportunities, we have to create them. Gordon (Hayward) was aggressive the whole game getting to the foul line. We had some shots at the end.
"Sometimes if you don't put away a certain team, they'll come back and bite you."
4. Coming into Thursday's game, the Bucks ranked 28th in the league in turnovers with 17 per game. But they did a good job cutting down mistakes and not forcing passes when they didn't need to, turning it over just three times in the first half and ended the game with a more than respectable 12.
"I think they were making a conscious effort, but still, they (Utah) shot a high percentage. They turned the ball over 20 something times and we just didn't take advantage of it." Kidd said.
5. Milwaukee has struggled this season at home, falling under .500 for the season with nine wins in 19 tries (including the win in London). The Bucks started off nicely at home with a 7-4 record, but have fallen to 1-6 over the last month at the Bradley Center. Still, Knight is staying positive.
"You can't get frustrated because you have to learn from it." Knight said. "The main thing is to learn from it, and learn we can be better and not make the same mistakes."
"It's disappointing not to win at home," Kidd said, "especially the last two games. We've got to get better, we've got one more game before we go on the road, so to win a game here is always important."
"You've got to win fans over." Dudley said. "Keep winning, keep playing hard and that will come."
Milwaukee's next game is this Saturday against the Detroit Pistons, who have won seven of their last 10.