The Bucks Were Really Close To Winning: Jazz 101 – Bucks 99

Utah Jazz 101 FinalRecap | Box Score 99 Milwaukee Bucks
Ersan Ilyasova, PF 17 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +5 +/-

In his first game starting in place of Johnny O’Bryant, Ilyasova hit his only three-point attempt and was active on both ends. Curiously, after helping the Bucks build an eight-point lead in the third quarter, he came out with 2:41 to play in the third and never returned. O’Bryant played much of the fourth quarter, but even after having probably his best game this season, there’s little chance he takes back the starting spot. But all that aside, Ersan made one of the best/most improbable plays of the Bucks season when he rejected Gordon Hayward at the rim in the first quarter.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 28 MIN | 5-10 FG | 3-3 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 5 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +1 +/-

Giannis keyed the Bucks’ big third quarter run, tallying six points, three rebounds and two assists in just under nine minutes before exiting in favor of Jared Dudley. When Giannis left, the Bucks were up 75-64. When he returned with 5:22 remaining in the fourth, the game was tied at 91. Down the stretch, he had a nice dunk in transition but missed what would have been the go-ahead three with 1:07 to play. After the game, he said he felt confident in the shot, which is encouraging, but he’s still shooting just 20 percent from three on the season.

Zaza Pachulia, C 31 MIN | 4-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 10 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +19 +/-

Pachulia was active on the glass all night but struggled mightily offensively against the length of Rudy Gobert and athleticism of Enes Kanter. It wasn’t for lack of effort, but he was part of the reason Kanter and Gobert combined for 26 boards.

Brandon Knight, PG 27 MIN | 6-16 FG | 4-5 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | +5 +/-

Knight struggled to find his shot for much of the game but attacked the basket relentlessly and had a couple nice finishes. Overall, though, those were overshadowed by a few missed opportunities in transition. In London, Knight displayed a willingness to pass on the break and it led to a number of highlight plays. But over the past few games, he’s seemingly reverted back to overdribbling to the point that he’s trapped with no option but to shoot. It cost the Bucks a basket late in the fourth, and he nearly turned the ball over with less than a minute to play after dribbling into a one-on-two situation in the corner.

Khris Middleton, SG 29 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +7 +/-

As usual, Middleton did what he needed to do and knocked down a few key shots, including a three-pointer from the corner that sparked the Bucks’ big third-quarter run. He also played a hand in forcing Gordon Hayward into six turnovers, though Hayward did finish with 24 points.

Kenyon Martin, PF 2 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +1 +/-

Martin made a quick cameo in the second quarter and missed what the ESPN play-by-play rundown called an “eight-foot hook shot.” Not ideal.

Johnny O’Bryant III, PF 22 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -2 +/-

It was O’Bryant’s best game to date, as he knocked down a few jumpers and corralled a career-high six rebounds. His best moment came midway through the fourth quarter, however, when he fought for an offensive rebound, gathered himself and dropped off a perfect pass to John Henson for a layup to put Milwaukee up three.

John Henson, C 15 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -22 +/-

Kidd favored Pachulia and O’Bryant over Henson and Ilyasova, which was a bit of a curious move given the length in the Utah frontcourt. Henson was productive when in the game but was never really able to establish a rhythm in only 15 minutes.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 21 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 9 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -7 +/-

The Bucks had 16 assists in the fist half alone and Bayless accounted for eight of them. Kidd rolled with Bayless well into the fourth quarter, and he knocked down two jumpers before Knight came on in relief with 5:22 to play.

Jared Dudley, SG 25 MIN | 6-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | -10 +/-

Coming off of back-to-back poor showings, Dudley had one of his better games of the season, knocking down a trio of three-pointers, including a one from the top of the key that brought the Bucks to within two late in the fourth quarter. A few possessions later, he missed what would have been the go-ahead three, but overall it was one of his better showings.

O.J. Mayo, SG 23 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | -7 +/-

Mayo scored in double-figures for the sixth straight game – his longest streak of the season – but he snapped a five-game streak of making at least one three-pointer. It was just the fifth time this season that he’s attempted fewer than two threes and the first time since well before Christmas. All that aside, he appears to be finding a comfort zone and is shooting nearly 49 percent in January after shooting 42 percent and 35 percent in December and November, respectively.

Jason Kidd

Kidd’s deep rotations and ride-the-hot-hand mentality have paid major dividends this season, but he waited too long to bring back Knight and Giannis in the fourth quarter. By the time Giannis returned, the Bucks’ double-digit lead had evaporated, and Utah was in control of the game. Sitting Ersan for the entire fourth quarter was also a bit questionable, particularly considering how well he played against Toronto on Monday. That said, Kidd – or someone on the bench – once again drew up a play out of a timeout to get Brandon Knight a great look at what could have been the game-winning shot.

Four Things We Saw

  1. This.
  2. Also this.
  3. Dante Exum had a hell of a game starting in place of Trey Burke. It was just his second NBA start, but he hit 4-of-6 three-pointers (career-high) to go with five assists in a career-high 35 minutes. I’m not going to pretend I know the Jazz, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Burke coming off the bench more consistently.
  4. After I harped on the Bucks’ turnover issues in the game preview, they turned the ball over just three times in the first half. The second half was a different story, though, as Milwaukee committed nine turnovers leading to 11 Jazz points. On the bright side, Knight did not have a turnover for the first time since Nov. 29 against Houston.

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  1. Are you kidding me Nick?

    B+ for Middelton who played nearly 30 minutes, scored 6 points with 3 boards and no assists? Then you credit him with ‘handling” Hayward (24 points including crucial late baskets). What are you sleeping with him? Give me a break!

    • probably an upgrade for the way he played at the end of the 4th quarter hitting a big 3 and forcing Heyward into a turnover

      • It’s tough to evaluate anyone in 2 minutes, so the C for K-Mart is basically a default grade. And you’re right that Hayward had a solid game, but 10 of his points came at the line and he had six turnovers.

  2. 5 makable shots in the last 1:10 of the games, all missed.. Coach Kidd can’t make shots for you young Bucks

  3. They lose the game everyone gets F’s! JK I thought the ratings were good maybe Middleton gets a B or B- maybe?