Did Utah Win? 38th edition: Jazz rattle Bucks
Welcome to the Lazy Utahn’s recap of the most recent Utah Jazz game. Do you want to talk to your friends about the game, impress them with cool stats, and act like you watch all 82 games like a true die hard even if you didn’t catch the big game last night? We got you covered in this simplistic breakdown of each topic that may arise from the latest Utah Jazz showdown.
Did Utah win?
Prior to the current three game road trip that Utah has embarked on, many fans would have been tickled pink if you told them their favorite team would win two of three games against the Eastern conference’s top three teams.
When you consider the first game of the trip resulted in a 29-point beatdown in Beantown at the hands of the Celtics, no one would have questioned you for predicting a three-game skid incoming.
Instead, the Jazz bested an Embiid-Harris less Sixers team and then wrapped up their time away from Salt Lake by thrashing the Bucks in Milwaukee.
Last nights 132-116 victory over Giannis and company (with the exception of Damian Lillard) proved that the Jazz winning 11 of their last 15 games has some backing.
We are going from fluke to good luck to a legitimately competent basketball team behind the patience and consistency of Will Hardy.
Sure, the Bucks have lost 4 of their last 5, but if you remember who the Jazz were a month and a half ago, this win feels like a playoff victory.
The Jazz are now 2 games from being a .500 squad with a 6 game homestand looming.
Utah sits a half game out of the 10th spot in the West and only a game and a half away from the 8th seed as the play-in tournament becomes more of a possibility for a team in year two of a rebuild.
So, it was just a hot shooting kind of night huh?
Yes, but also no.
The first quarter saw 11 triples fall off the hands of Jazz players in route to a 41-23 lead.
The 2nd quarter only yielded 5 threes’ but it was enough for the Jazz to enter the locker room at halftime with a 77-46 lead on the road.
As fans at Fiserv forum booed their home team, Utah could be certain the Bucks would punch back, and they certainly did.
The Jazz have rarely if ever held such a powerful lead, and they certainly haven’t done it against a team with a championship pedigree.
The Bucks took it personally and gave the more inexperienced Jazz all they could handle. By the time the third ended, the 31-point lead was whittled down to ten.
Jazz fans experiencing flashbacks to the Quin Snyder era thought they knew what was coming. A blown lead, a blown opportunity, and a heartbreaking loss that should have been a win.
That wasn’t the case however as Utah held their ground and looked poised beyond their years.
Khris Middleton had his 23 and former Jazzman Malik Beasley poured in 17 as Giannis rumbled to a 25 point, 11 assist, and 10 rebound triple double and Bobby Portis brought the fight.
Utah had to hold strong or crumble and they chose to hang tough.
When things became questionable the Jazz did what any good team should do, and began to feed their star player.
With Markkanen steady, and the rest of the team shooting 68.8 percent in the 4th, Utah held on.
So, yes, the shooting was superb, 52.2 from the field and 45.5 from deep, their highest total on 44 threes attempted by 18 percent this season in three instances.
But the Jazz could have lost and didn’t. The shooting was hot, but the team’s ability to stay cool on the road against a player of Giannis’s caliber is something we haven’t yet seen this year, and a true instance of this team morphing into a competitive group.
Also, if that isn’t concrete enough for you, David Locke shared that no one does crunch time better than the Utah Jazz as of now:
The team is playing unified, love that. Tell me about individuals.
Lots of individual talk to be had after this one.
We mentioned Markkanen’s 4th quarter, scoring more than anyone not naming Khris Middleton, but his final stat line wasn’t overly remarkable.
If you don’t appreciate his clutch play in a vacuum you may be underwhelmed with his 21 points on 15 shots.
But big time scoring aside, Markkanen went 4/10 from downtown and snagged 14 boards and went 7/8 from the stripe.
A slightly inefficient night shooting the ball can be easily ignored when his contributions in the 4th and rebounding are as large as they were VS the Bucks.
Jazz fans continue to throw apologies in the direction of Collin Sexton as the guard dazzled with 19 points in 18 minutes.
Sexton’s three triples came in consecutive fashion.
Collins also had three assists to no turnovers as his former inability to pass and turnover woes seems all but forgotten as he continues to evolve.
Sexton being on the trade block should no longer be a certainty with his recent play and growth.
Speaking of Jazz guards, lets focus on the rookie, Keyonte George, for a split second here.
George’s star potential was on full display in Wisconsin. It wasn’t just hitting shots here or there or attacking in transition for George, it was shot creation and hardcore finishes through and through.
Keyonte earned all 19 points on near 54 percent shooting while grabbing 6 rebounds and dealing 4 assists. Without some of George’s tough baskets, Utah may not win this game, like this floater for example:
For the Jazz backcourt being the issue early in the season, filled with disappointments and questions, it sure has been one of Utah’s greatest strengths.
Jordan Clarkson added to the equation with a 21-point outing on 50 percent shooting and 2/3 from thee.
JC turned it over only once and delivered six dimes while knocking down all 5 free throws.
No one is sure what the future holds for one of the best bench scorers in the game, but Clarkson’s value has only increased the last couple of weeks.
That leaves us with one other guard whose impact was essential to a Jazz victory.
Kris Dunn has been as high as a starter and as low as a DNP-Coach’s decision.
Dunn has never wavered, grumbled or complained and since reclaiming a starting role 10 games ago, it isn’t hard to see why the Jazz have won 8 of those.
Dunn is one of the more unselfish players in the game today, someone content to play hard defense and find the open man. Every successful team needs that type of player, every successful team has that type of player.
Dunn scored 5 points last night, taking 2 shots and hitting them both.
As great as that is, Kris Dunn is there to lead the offense, get guys comfortable and into rhythm. When Talen Horton-Tucker was in Dunn’s spot the offense was erratic, unstable and THT demanded a lot of those possessions himself.
With Dunn, the offense is producing at new heights. In the last ten games as a starter, kris is averaging 6.1 assist per game with last nights 13 assists being the third time posting double digit assist numbers.
If you look at the previous ten games prior to Dunn being named the starter, Utah was averaging 111.2 points per game with 26.6 assist per game.
Now, in the current ten game stretch, Utah is averaging 122.7 points per game with 30.2 assist per game. Fair to say the stats support Dunn in the starting lineup.
The defense help too as Utah has gone from giving up about 119.6 a game in the prior ten, to 115 in the ten with Dunn starting.
John Collins also just recorded back-to-back 19-point games which is a big deal for someone who hasn’t put up more than 20 yet this season. If that remains consistent, and it could due to the lineup changes, the Jazz may have unlocked what Collins can actually offer.
Walker Kessler working off the bench went 3 of 4 for 8 points, 6 rebounds and two blocks.
Kelly Olynyk put up a smooth 13 off the bench with 6 boards and 3 assists and battled Bobby Portis throughput the night in what ended up being a premier matchup. Kelly knocked down both three attempts
Ochai Agbaji and Simone Fontecchio struggled in the scoring department combing for 7 points (in fairness Ochai only took two shots) but both were impactful defensive cogs in this one.
Never would have predicted the dysfunctional backcourt doing what they are doing, you got a highlight of them from this game?
This was a fun enough, impressive enough, and enjoyable enough win for you just to take the whole thing in.
And by that, I mean the highlight condensed version. Check it out;
So, there’s got to be an impressive stat with all this winning right?
Utah is hot, and they may get just a bit hotter with some schedule help on the way.
With a 6 game homestand up next, the Jazz should be hanging around town a lot more lately due to what was a road heavy schedule early on.
Look at what their road slate was compared to the rest of the west:
Who has to deal with the rejuvenated Jazz next?
Denver does. Its actually a contest of two of the hottest teams in the Association right now.
Utah is 11-5 at home, Denver is 11-8 away.
The game tips off at 7:00 mountain time in Salt Lake City on Wednesday the 10th.