Shoot, miss, rebound, score, repeat. That was the game plan for the Utah Jazz apparently Saturday night in Milwaukee.
With no one doing much on the glass for the Milwaukee Bucks, the Jazz took full advantage and grabbed 14 offensive rebounds leading to 25 second chance points in a game that looked an awful lot like the one the Jazz won against the Bucks in Utah earlier this season. The result was the same Saturday, just a little less lopsided, as the Jazz beat the Bucks 95-86.
Milwaukee actually outplayed Utah for the majority of the first half, but saw things start to slip away as the second quarter ended and what had been an 11 point lead with under five minutes to go turned into just a three point halftime lead. Things officially began to spiral out of control in the third quarter. Milwaukee was able to grab just three rebounds in the entire third quarter, while the Jazz had five on the offensive end alone. Utah scored 10 second chance points in the third quarter and flipped Milwaukee’s three point halftime lead into a three point lead of their own.
One would expect the Jazz’s talented inside combo of Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson to cause problems off the glass, but it was the rangy forward Andrei Kirilenko who gave Milwaukee the most problems, grabbing four offensive rebounds with a variety of snags, tips and touches that the Bucks had no answer for.
The 12 extra shots Utah accumulated more than made up for the shooting percentage difference when it was all said and done. Utah chose their shots wisely too. The Jazz attempted 12 more shots inside the paint than Milwaukee, outscoring the Bucks inside 32-28 despite hitting just 16/40 shots inside. But all night, it was quantity for Utah over quality.
Until the fourth quarter, Milwaukee performed fairly well offensively. Once the quarter started though, things fell apart again. With very little rhythm behind an aching Brandon Jennings (he apparently injured his foot or ankle in San Antonio), John Salmons again took over the reigns as the primary creator for the Bucks in the fourth quarter and struggled, hitting just one of six shots. Most of the game, Salmons played well off his teammates, hitting four of nine shots and three of four threes, but with Jennings limited to just five fourth quarter minutes, Milwaukee needed someone else to create. Salmons got the call, but couldn’t answer.
- Keyon Dooling was again a very solid backup point guard when Milwaukee needed him to be. Though he had his share of struggles in the fourth like the rest of the team, Dooling again flashed an outside shot that has rarely been seen this season, hitting three of four threes and five of seven shots overall from the field in scoring 14 points.
- Chris Douglas-Roberts didn’t have the super-hero effort he did in San Antonio, but had another strong offensive game against the Jazz, affirming his spot as Milwaukee’s starting three. CD-R had five points in less than two minutes down the stretch in the third quarter that went a ways towards helping the Bucks keep the game close. He attacked the rim without hesitation and looked like Milwaukee’s most aggressive perimeter player at times with regards to attacking.
A possession isn’t over until the defensive team secures the ball. So while Milwaukee did a good job of forcing initial misses against the Jazz, it mattered very little in the end with all of the offensive rebounds they allowed. Kirilenko had very little problem moving through Milwaukee’s line of rebounders to get to loose balls, thanks in no small part to his size and length advantages over both CD-R and Salmons.
- As much as rebounding was an issue, so was containing Deron Williams. That’s to be expected though. Williams was able to carve up the Bucks defense and basically move wherever he wanted all night, especially when the limited Jennings was on him. Williams finished with a typical 22 point, 11 assist night that Milwaukee had very little answer for.
Had Milwaukee been able to grab just a few more rebounds, three or four, instead of letting the Jazz get extra attempts, this could have been their game. Oddly enough, the team that had played the night before and traveled was the one with more spring in their step though. The Bucks did enough things right that Saturday wasn’t a total loss as far as their play went, but did one thing bad enough that they weren’t able to win the game. With three more games on the road coming up, Milwaukee may have blown a big opportunity to keep the positive momentum going after a few solid games in a row.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).