Following one quarter of play, the Jazz would hold a 34-32 advantage, with the Bucks defense faltering a little bit. Quin Snyder really opened up his gameplan by pushing the tempo, sending his team down the floor each possession. It’d work well too, with the Jazz shooting nearly 55 percent in the first half. Moving onto the third period, they grooved a 62-58 lead.
A back-and-forth quarter would be the story of the third, with both teams trading the lead. At one point, the Bucks would find themselves down by as many as 11. However, moving onward into the final period of regulation, Milwaukee would trail by three points.
The defense really began to click in the fourth, and the Bucks would kick into a gear they never were in the previous quarters. The dagger came when Brook Lopez stepped into a three at the top of the key and got nothing but net, sending himself into a victory celebration and ultimately, the Jazz home.
Who else but Giannis Antetokounmpo would lead the Bucks — the Greek Freak posted a 30 point performance paired with 10 boards. Malcolm Brogdon would complete his efforts with 21 points, which now marks nine consecutive games of double-digit points. The big men duo of Brook Lopez and Thon Maker each made their presences felt with 15 point efforts.
For Utah, Donovan Mitchell served as the high scorer, completing his game with 26 points. Rudy Gobert registered 14 points. Derrick Favors and Jae Crowder each mixed in 12 points.
Thon was a HUGE difference maker.
Okay, I apologize for the poor pun. But in all seriousness, his contributions were what pushed this team to the top. When I asked Giannis about him, he immediately said, “He’s the reason we won the game.” — and he isn’t wrong, either. Going from a DNP the other night against Toronto to 18 minutes last night shows that he’s always ready to put his fingerprints on the game. Thon was quite ecstatic as well, noting how energetic the crowd was when he came off the court to a thunderous standing ovation. Everyone in the locker room noted that the dial that typically goes 1-10 goes to 11 whenever Thon makes a big play. If the Bucks are going to continue being a top seed in the Eastern Conference, having Thon put forth huge games like this will really go a far way’s.
The Bucks made some terrific adjustments on defense.
Right out of the gates, it was clear what Quin Snyder’s plan was — push the tempo and make the Bucks uncomfortable. It worked to Utah’s benefit in the first half, with the Jazz sinking eight threes seemingly at will. Sometimes I had to rub my eyes to make sure Jason Kidd wasn’t roaming the Bucks sideline, especially after numerous corner 3-pointers fell in. However, thank goodness that wasn’t the case, and thank goodness we have Mike Budenholzer as our coach. Rotations seemed quicker, the communication was more extroverted, and everything was much crisper in the second half.
Though it wasn’t a must-win for the Bucks, this was a well-needed victory.
The Bucks still haven’t lost consecutive games this season. It’s January 8th. That’s astounding. But considering the Bucks were facing a .500 Jazz team yesterday, it was nearly imperative that they rally for a win. We all know how razor-thin the East is, and following a disappointing loss Saturday night to the Raptors, a win was needed to get back footing both mentally and in the standings. Oh yeah, and Milwaukee will be playing the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night. They have this player named James Harden who’s pretty good at basketball and is on quite the tear. So, yeah. In other words, the Bucks are pretty happy they got this one.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- After last night’s victory, the Bucks are now 5-1 against the Northwest division. When you think about how they’ve handled them in the last few years, that’s quite the improvement. Heck, that’s quite the accolade for any team, regardless of record. You’ll definitely take that against this division.
- Oh man, was Giannis vs. Gobert a treat. Two of the best big men in the game dueling and clashing it out one-on-one. Such special talents. Every time they’d meet at the rim, Fiserv Forum would collectively gasp. It was such an experience. It’s a shame these teams only meet two times a year.
- I still want to run through a brick wall following Thon’s hustle play. It was noted in postgame availability, but there’s just something extra about Thon and his presence out on the court. Whenever he makes a major contribution, it rallies the troops more than a normal player would. We need to come up with a name for it — perhaps the Thon Phenomenon?
- As I noted earlier, Malcolm Brogdon’s 21 point performance yesterday now marks nine consecutive double-digit games. He’s quietly done that and at this point, I think it’s safe to say that that’s growing to be expected of him at this point. The Bucks will definitely need that streak to extend to double-digits in Houston.
- It appears that Khris Middleton’s confidence is coming back. Granted, he only poured in 11 points, but there were some shots that he took and made that just looked like the old Khris. Even if he doesn’t make them, if he looks like his old self and the muscle memory is the same to him, you’ll take that as a Bucks fan. A confident Khris Middleton is eons better than a shaky Khris Middleton.
- For the music appreciators reading this, the Bucks locker room was in a mood following the win. The postgame playlist was ASTROWORLD by Travis Scott.