Fresh off of a come-from-behind victory over Dallas, the Milwaukee Bucks traveled to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Jazz. The matchup was the Bucks’ second meeting with the Jazz this season, the first being a 132-116 loss at home on Jan. 8. This time, the Bucks suffered a 123-108 defeat, losing by one point less than last time around (improvement!).
Both offenses came out on fire out of the gate, and neither team missed a field goal within the first two minutes of action. Collin Sexton swished two straight threes and a pair at the line to give the Jazz an early lead, but buckets from AJ Green and Damian Lillard kept the Bucks within striking distance. After one, the Jazz clung to a 32-26 lead.
Green picked up where he left off (and then some), as he started the second quarter with a pair of 3-pointers. Cam Payne and Jae Crowder also hit shots from deep, and an inside bucket from Giannis Antetokounmpo gave the Bucks a commanding 11-point advantage. The lead remained stagnant for a few minutes, until the Bucks began to pull away further towards the end of the half. Facing a 19-point deficit, Lauri Markkanen led the Jazz on an 11-2 scoring run to end the half. The Bucks led at the break, 63-53.
Malik Beasley and Bobby Portis connected from long range on back-to-back possessions to open the second half. John Collins scored from all three levels to keep the Jazz somewhat competitive, but Giannis, Dame, and unlikely 3-point assassin Bobby Portis prevented the Jazz from getting back in it (more on that later). Bucks led 95-83 after three.
Markkanen and Kelly Olynyk buried deep shots to start the fourth quarter, and it became clear that another nail-biter was on the horizon. Free throws from a flagrant foul and a pair of inside shots brought Utah within one, and a deep ball from Lauri finally gave the Jazz the lead. The Bucks went cold at the worst possible time, and even after Beasely hit a three, Keyonte George answered with his own on the other end. The Jazz ended this game on a 38-9 scoring run. The Bucks did not register a point in the final 3:31 seconds of this game. Rarely in this league will you ever have a lead that can sustain that level of collapse, and tonight’s contest was no exception. Final score: Jazz 123, Bucks 108.
Stat That Stood Out
In the fourth quarter, the Jazz scored 40 points, shooting 15-for-25 (60%) from the field. Conversely, the Bucks scored 13 points, shooting just 4-for-17 (24%) from the field. That was hard to watch. I don’t know if I’ve ever had my opinion of a team shift so drastically from 12 minutes of play, but that’s NBA basketball. Onto Phoenix.