The 3-point ball was red hot for the Jazz in the first quarter, as they connected on 11-of-17 of their attempts from beyond the perimeter. At one point, Collin Sexton buried several consecutive threes. That consistent shooting gave them a lopsided 41-23 lead going into the second quarter.
Things wouldn’t turn around in the second quarter. In fact, they got worse for the Bucks. They really looked lifeless out there and unable to generate any offense to match Utah. Meanwhile, the Jazz continued to pour in three after three. At the break, they had tallied 16 threes which culminated into a 77-46 lead.
The Bucks didn’t totally roll over after halftime. Instead, they came out fighting, slicing into Utah’s lead. Fueled by the grit and passion of Bobby Portis, the Jazz lead evaporated to just ten going into the fourth quarter.
Despite an inspiring third quarter, the Bucks didn’t have enough left within them to fully cross the finish line. The Jazz would finish them off with some timely shots in the fourth, securing a 132-116 victory.
Giannis led the Bucks with a triple-double, scoring 25 points, ten rebounds, and 11 assists. Khris Middleton featured 23 of his own.
The Jazz had steady doses of scoring throughout their lineup, with Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson each leading the way with 21 points apiece. Keyonte George was big off the bench as well, scoring 19 points.
The Bucks will now square off against the Boston Celtics on Thursday night in Milwaukee.
What Did We Learn?
Once again, the effort just wasn’t there for the Bucks. It was the second time in recent games where they began sluggish, and it really did them in. The team has now lost four of their last five games, making some really start to panic. It won’t get any easier, as Boston comes to town on Thursday. There will definitely need to be improvements if the losing streak will be snapped.
The Bucks continued to struggle on defense.
Right from the opening tip, it was the same story we’ve been seeing in recent games. Just low efforts and a look of everyone being lost out there. The Jazz saw themselves build up a 33 point lead at one point, really making the Bucks scratch their heads in frustration. Postgame, that was the common theme. Everyone was frustrated. After the game against the Rockets, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for Milwaukee to get back on track. However, the rocky start continued in the opening quarters. Here’s Khris Middleton’s thoughts on how the first half went down:
Khris Middleton on going down by 33 points to the Jazz in the first half: "Very frustrating for sure. Just hoped we would come out, respond a little bit better...but tonight, we didn't."— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) January 9, 2024
Giannis also chimed in on what he viewed as necessary to get back on track:
Giannis on what's needed for the Bucks to get out of this slump: pic.twitter.com/Wir2o1QeGt— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) January 9, 2024
There was some interesting comments pregame.
Pre-game, Adrian Griffin was asked about his thoughts on Giannis’ postgame comments following the loss in Houston:
“I agree. We all gotta be better. We had a great December. We started out slow in January and when you drop three, I believe, out of four games, everyone gotta be better. Coaches gotta better, players gotta be better. There’s just no way around it. We’re a high-character team. Giannis wants to win. I want to win. The players want to win. The coaches want to win. The entire organization wants to win. We’re all aligned and you know, we gotta do the things that go into winning. It’s that simple.”
It’s clear there’s some things that need to be improved on, and it’s clear that Griffin realizes that. There are definitely a lot of ups and downs in a season, but everyone is in agreement that improvements need to be made. It was just a little shocking to hear Griffin answer it like that right away.
Khris Middleton had a solid outing.
How about Khris Middleton? He was dialed in tonight, especially late. His play down the stretch was massive for the Bucks, as he finished with 23 points on 7-of-16 shooting. It’s good to see him putting it all together after a slow start to the season as his body got accustomed to conditioning. He’s now scored 20+ points for the seventh time this season. All seven of his 20=point games have come in the last 15 games. His minutes should only keep growing from this point on, and right now, the Bucks are in desperate need for meaningful contributions from him.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- How did the Jazz react to Andre Jackson Jr. being inserted into the starting lineup?
The Bucks are starting Andre Jackson tonight, which means the Jazz should be packing the ever loving crap out of the paint whenever they are playing defense in the halfcourt— Tony Jones (@Tjonesonthenba) January 9, 2024
It ended up working pretty well, as the Bucks didn’t have much of an answer to that defensive approach that was thrown at them.
- Bobby Portis vs. Olynyk was an entertaining matchup. Portis continues to have the crowd in the palm of his hand and can bring them to their feet in an instant.
- It was another triple-double night for Giannis. That’s his fourth one of the year. He’s now recorded the fourth-most triple-doubles in the NBA this season and his 39 career triple-doubles rank 13th in NBA history.
- Chris Livingston got some meaningful minutes last night. When players are out, it opens the door for players who typically don’t see a lot of action, and that was the case last night. He’d get 15 minutes out there, going 2-of-5 from the floor and totaling six points on the evening.
- This was the first time I could remember boos at Fiserv Forum. Giannis agreed, and even went as far as saying that he would boo himself too.