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Milwaukee vs. Utah Preseason Recap: Jazz Bounce Bucks, 124-120

Milwaukee Bucks v Utah Jazz

If a game is played but doesn’t count in the standings and nobody can watch it online, did it really happen?

The answer is “technically yes” (the Bucks fixed their stream issues quickly, while the league’s blackout rules continue to confound us all), as the Milwaukee Bucks fell to the Utah Jazz.

Tonight’s exhibition was a continuation of the presumed starting lineup featuring Grayson Allen, which projects to be quite productive. Giannis Antetokounmpo (21 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) showed off some nifty shooting, including 2-3 on threes. Khris Middleton led the team with 25 points on 14 shots, and Jrue Holiday pieced together a ho-hum 13/4/5 outing. Grayson Allen may not have matched his trade partner’s scorching night, but as the fifth starter he’ll be expected to come and go.

We also got our first look at George Hill and Rodney Hood, as both had been out with injury until tonight. Hill was his normal, under-control self putting up 8 points and 4 rebounds, while Hood seemed out of sorts in his 10 minutes of playing time and did not produce much of anything.

The Bucks continued playing at a breakneck pace, taking 15 more total field goals than the Jazz and making five more (48 to 43). However, Utah stayed ahead by virtue of a sizable free throw disparity (18/23 for the Jazz vs. 8/10 for the Bucks), undoubtedly because of their improved defense and Giannis’ limited playing time. Still, the Jazz are the type of defense that the Bucks’ offense needs to be able to overcome, giving this preseason matchup at least a little bit of meaning.

Milwaukee’s two exciting young prospects at this stage are Jordan Nwora and Sandro Mamukelashvili, and each had a few moments tonight that encouraged the more bullish Bucks fans to add it to the pile of evidence suggesting that the team has a pair of diamonds in the rough buried at the end of the bench. Mamu was more muted, going 1/8 from the field to go along with 7 rebounds, but Nwora continues to cook. With 13 points and 4 assists(!), Nwora’s case for cracking into the rotation gets stronger and stronger. Will his defense ever get to an acceptable level?

Milwaukee has only one more fake game before the preseason comes to a merciful end. Once the games start to count and we start to see the team at full strength, the Bucks’ title defense efforts will become much more clear. Until then, we wait!