The Milwaukee Bucks dropped a clunker to the Utah Jazz, 121-108, behind a record breaking night for Utah. Giannis Antetokounmpo and John Henson made their returns to the starting lineup after missing Wednesday night’s tilt against the Phoenix Suns. A surprise starting lineup returnee was Gary Payton II, making his second consecutive start. Rudy Gobert was absent from the Jazz lineup as he is currently sidelined with a knee injury.
The Bucks did not get off to the blazing start they needed to put away the pesky Jazz early. The Bucks showed signs of holiday rust as the Jazz zipped the ball over and around the perimeter. Milwaukee trailed 64-57 at the halftime break, but encouragingly enough they converted on 61 percent of their field goal attempts. Unfortunately, Milwaukee’s defense could not slow the Jazz attack enough for it to matter. The Jazz shot just under 60 percent from the field in the second half and there was just no coming back from that for the Bucks. Utah hit three-pointer after three-pointer down the stretch and each one felt like adding water to a sinking canoe.
Giannis returned to the lineup and had no reservations about easing himself back into the basketball flow. He got to the free throw line seven times in the first half and banged bodies in a Gobert-less post. The second half saw more of the same for Antetokounmpo as he continued to dissect the defense. The shots were not falling in the second half as some questionable no-calls on the young All-Star inhibited his ability to finish at the rim. All told, he finished with another double-double, scoring a game high 27 points and corralling 13 rebounds in just under 39 minutes of game time.
Tony Snell had a great night coming off the bench. The former New Mexico Lobo great put together a 18 point night on 80 percent shooting. On a night when Khris Middleton reverted back to his October-self, Snell was a reliable second scoring option for the Bucks offense. The usual sharpshooter attempted, and made, only two three-point shots tonight. This is definitely a performance for Snell to build upon as it looks like he will have to acclimate to a bench role.
In what was a loaded draft class, the Jazz may have found one of the stars from that class in Donovan Mitchell. The rookie had a team high 24 points on the night including 6 of 10 shooting from three-point land. His great three-point shooting night was joined by Rodney Hood (3/6 from three) and Joe Ingles (5/8). Hood and Ingles finished with 21 and 15 points respectively.
Stat That Stood Out
The Jazz took 32 three-pointers in this game and connected on a franchise record 18 of them. That is some incredible shooting from deep and the Bucks defensive scheme, once again, aided in an opponents’ three-point success. The Bucks over helped on toothless Utah offensive sets and the ensuing defensive scramble, combined with crisp offensive ball movement, led to quality three-point look after quality three-point look for Utah. Sigh.