The Milwaukee Bucks’ seven-game winning streak was snapped by the Utah Jazz last night with a 115-111 loss. With both teams trading haymakers and going on big runs early, this game had a playoff intensity to it. It looked like Milwaukee was en route to their 11th straight road victory when they built a 17-point lead early in the fourth, but Donovan Mitchell had other plans. The absences of Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon certainly showed down the stretch in this one. Here are three Bucks who stood out in the defeat.
Giannis Antetokounmpo played like a bully.
From the get-go, he kept attacking the Jazz’s big men and absorbing a lot of contact driving to the rim. His eyes lit up when Rudy Gobert was matched up on him, and the Greek Freak outmuscled him on multiple occasions. Giannis was fantastic last night against Utah at driving to the rim and using his upper-body strength to create separation at the rim. He got much more aggressive as the game went on, and nearly willed the Bucks to victory with a 43 point, 13 rebounds, and eight assist performance in 32 minutes. He converted on 15-of-26 shots and 2-of-3 attempts from deep. One big flaw last night was the fact that he was only 11-of-19 from the free throw line. He did a superb job at getting there but simply could not knock down consecutive free throws. He did look gassed down the stretch, so perhaps that attributed to his struggles from the line. Giannis finished a team-high plus-19.
Khris Middleton faded as the game went on.
While he did finish with 29 points, nine rebounds, and six assists, the majority of his points came in the first half where he helped keep the Bucks within striking distance. However, he was not up to par in the second half. There were a few possessions where he would opt for hero ball, which ended as you might expect. He also forced up some tough shots early in the shot clock, and also missed a handful of open shots from close range. He made only 8-of-24 shots, but any game on the back end of a back-to-back will be a challenge. Especially in that altitude. He might go supernova versus the Suns on Monday.
Brook Lopez is an animal.
Not only did he make all four of his three-point attempts and tally 16 points, but he also blocked seven shots. Six of those rejections came within the games first five minutes, and it looked like he was on his way to a triple-double in blocks. Lopez did an excellent job at inviting Utah into the paint, then timing his jump perfectly for an emphatic rejection. He finished plus-16 last night and continues to shine in a Bucks uniform.
As for the Jazz, Donovan Mitchell had a rough shooting first half but erupted in the second half. He ended with a career-high 46 points and simply could not miss. The Bucks really had no one who could stop him, and sometimes you just got to tip your cap. Derrick Favors was huge for Utah, finishing with 23 points and 18 rebounds. Rudy Gobert on the other hand...yikes. He scored five points and ended minus-36 (!!!!!).
- It was the first rough shooting night in a Bucks uniform for Nikola Mirotic. He made only 1-of-7 shots and scored three points.
- With the lack of depth available, Milwaukee’s bench struggled. Isaiah Canaan was specifically awful against Utah, going scoreless in 10 minutes and finishing minus-14. He was chucking up some really ugly shots. I was not a fan.
- Milwaukee turned the ball over 15 times compared to 20 assists.
- The Bucks made 22-of-30 free throws, and just a few more makes from the charity stripe would have changed the outcome of this game.
- The Bucks are a really damn good basketball team.