The road trip out west continued with a quick jaunt into the mountains, as the Milwaukee Bucks eked out a win over the Utah Jazz, 117-111.
The game jumped out to a fast start as both teams were making shots almost as quickly as they could take them. The Jazz hit a bunch of threes in the early going, opening up a decent lead by taking advantage of the gaps in the Bucks’ defense. Then again, the Jazz usually hit a bunch of threes, ranking in the top-ten in both attempts and accuracy on the season, and Milwaukee doesn’t exactly dissuade opponents from taking long-range shots. Utah hit a whopping ten three-pointers in the first quarter, but carried a mere 39-37 lead after the first twelve minutes. Utah’s sheet music included a lot more rest notes in the second quarter (hey, it’s not the worst Jazz reference you’ll have read today), and it allowed the Bucks to construct a 68-59 halftime lead.
Utah quickly chipped away at Milwaukee’s advantage, pulling off an embarrassingly-easy 10-0 run to re-take the lead in less than three minutes. Yes, it was the third quarter, striking again. The Bucks, to their credit, did their best to get out of their own way...but the bad vibes that seep into this basketball team between minutes 25 and 36 were too powerful; Milwaukee allowed the Jazz to flip the halftime lead and the Bucks used a late run to start the fourth quarter down only 93-89.
With that nonsense out of the way, Milwaukee got back on track in the final period. Jrue Holiday scored 7 straight points and Giannis played through his foul trouble to put pressure on the rim. The fourth quarter was extremely tight, with the two teams trading leads often, until Giannis pulled off a fancy finish over Rudy Gobert and followed it up by dropping in an absurd layup (plus the foul) to open up a 107-100 lead.
Throw it up. Watch it fall.— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) March 15, 2022
Insane Giannis bucket. pic.twitter.com/adWkjr9Hqq
The lead did not last for long, as Utah went on a 7-2 run to cut the game back to just a two point separation with three minutes remaining. The last run of regulation was incredibly tense, exciting basketball with a hyped crowd to match. A pair of cool Middleton free throws and a timely Holiday steal off of Donovan Mitchell helped push the Bucks up 113-109 with 27.9 remaining, and Milwaukee closed out the win from there.
Stat That Stood Out
These two teams were pretty evenly matched for much of the game, scorching Jazz first quarter shooting aside. Usually, teams like Milwaukee want to spread the ball around and let everybody get a chance to contribute, and they ride that pursuit of equity to wins. Tonight, it was all about the main contributors; Giannis Antetokounmpo (30), Khris Middleton (23), and Jrue Holiday (29) combined to score 82, and the Bucks’ needed every last point in this one.
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