The Utah Jazz seemed to wave the white flag before tip sitting many of their key players, and the Milwaukee Bucks responded in kind with a thoroughly dominating offensive performance for this 144-116 win.
Against the Utah Jazz’s skeleton crew, the Bucks had little issue pouring it on the defense en route to a 40-25 advantage after one. The Jazz made a run of it in the second quarter before a late scoring push by Milwaukee kept them at arm’s length, down 72-58 at half. In the third, the Jazz fell flat, and Milwaukee just battered through the Utah defense time and again to blow the game open with a 115-85 lead through three. The fourth quarter was garbage time from start to finish with Bucks backups (including MarJon) getting their chance to shine.
Milwaukee now flies to Denver for a matchup on Saturday night.
Utah’s zone defense came pre-cut. With few of their primary starters, Will Hardy opted to have his team seem to play much of this game in a zone. In return, the Milwaukee Bucks sliced and diced them apart like a plastic knife through hot butter. They had 21 assists on 27 field goals in the first half alone, with penetration off the dribble, flashing to the middle, drive-and-kicks, seemingly everything working for them to blow through this Utah team. Giannis Antetokounmpo was doing yeoman work getting them off-kilter and finding teammates, tallying 11 on the night. The Bucks set a new season-high with 42 assists.
Brook the Block King Reigns Supreme. Across the court from Walker Kessler, an up and coming block artist, Brook Lopez showed the young man what a true artiste looks like. The Jazz were practically helpless when they entered the paint on his end, blowing up everything from layups to dunk attempts from the Utah offense. His seven blocks led the game, and along with his whopping 14 boards and 17 points, he was a team-high +36 in his minutes on the court.
I was already thinking about the Denver game partway through this one. I really tried to think of a third point to make in this game, but I really just started hoping that we would get a chance to see as full-strength as possible Milwaukee vs. Denver on Saturday night when these teams face off.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- I truly enjoyed Brook Lopez getting two blocks in the early going of this game on Walker Kessler, one of his chief opponents for most overall blocks this year.
- Joe Ingles got a tribute video in his return to Utah.
- The Jazz’s interior defense, even with Kessler, had little hope against Giannis and the Bucks once they got them shifted around. Early on, it was easy pickings after shifting their backups into a rotation or two and Kessler was out of position for a block.
- In case you were wondering how the talent level of Jazz backups vs. the Bucks starters worked out...in the first five minutes of this game, Grayson Allen had four triples, and Brook had four blocks.
- THT threw an inbounds pass...to himself at one point in this game. There were some bad turnovers in this game, but thankfully none could top this.
- Milwaukee looked like they found an NFL Blitz cheat code in the third quarter. They literally just ran up the court, had a player either cherry pick under the basket for a dish and easy bucket or drove really quickly before the Jazz got into any semblance of set defense. It was automatic.
- “The play is under review to find the identity of the shooter” was a phrase I didn’t expect to hear in an NBA game. It was used near the end of the third as the refs went to review to find out which Jazz player Portis fouled on the offensive end. Strange.
- Thanasis Antetokounmpo entered the game late in the third period and continued to play from that point on. And it was at that point I realized, Bud felt pretty good about his chances.
- Hey, former Badger Micah Potter got some play in the fourth quarter of this game! Poor Mr. Potter got this highlight hung on him though.
- This was a helpful get-right game for Pat Connaughton as he hit 22 points, but more importantly, went 6-10 from deep.
- After a lengthy MarJon hiatus this season, it’s great he’s been able to get back-to-back action. He hit his first stepback jumper of the night, but did get beat on a blow-by on the other end. He’ll have plenty of teaching things to work on in the offseason but showed more than enough as a rookie.