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Analysis: Utah Jazz falter down the stretch in loss to Milwaukee Bucks

SHARE Analysis: Utah Jazz falter down the stretch in loss to Milwaukee Bucks
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell holds his head

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) reacts after missing a 3-pointer in the final seconds of an NBA game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, March 14, 2022. The Jazz lost 111-117.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

The Utah Jazz lost 117-111 to the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night at Vivint Arena.

Milwaukee outscored Utah 28-18 in the fourth quarter and won its first game in Utah since 2001.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 30 points to lead the Bucks, while Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley scored 29 points each.

High Notes

  • Mike Conley had his best game in months, scoring 29 points on 10 for 13 shooting and dishing out seven assists. Before Monday, Conley was in the midst of a slump — shooting 26.9% from the field and, averaging 8.4 points in his last 10 games. Conley got things going early, scoring eight points making two 3-pointers, part of the 10 the Jazz hit in the first quarter. Utah started the third quarter on a 13-0 run to take the lead, powered by Conley. He knocked down a 3-pointer and assisted on three shots during the run. It was exactly the game the 14-year veteran needed to break his slump.

“The ball just went in. It was one of those things where I know what a good shooter I am and the kind of player I am, so I was just waiting for a game like tonight.” — Conley

  • Utah’s third quarter is in consideration for the best quarter the team has played this season. Missing Bojan Bogdanovic and Danuel House Jr., the Jazz outscored the defending champs 34-21. The offense was moving seamlessly, as Donovan Mitchell and Conley each had four assists, while Mitchell had nine points and Conley and Gobert had six apiece. Utah came out of the locker room on a 13-0 run. The Jazz’s defense locked down through most of the period, forcing five turnovers and limiting Antetokounmpo to two points. At the end of the quarter, though, Utah allowed a 9-2 Bucks run.
  • Hassan Whiteside had some good moments defensively, blocking four shots, all on Antetokounmpo.

Low Notes

  • With one minute left in the game, with the Jazz down by two, Donovan Mitchell drove hard to the basket, and missed a layup. Mitchell thought he got fouled on the play, but play went on, and Mitchell immediately fouled up two. That foul led to two made free throws by Kris Middleton, putting the Bucks up four. Following those free throws, Holiday snuck up behind Mitchell and stole the ball, effectively ending the Jazz’s hopes of a comeback. Mitchell initiated most of the plays down the stretch, as he usually does, but perhaps Mike Conley — who had his best game in months and was doing a great job engineering the Jazz’s offense in the third quarter — should have had the ball in his hands more in the closing minutes.

“I will be better. When I have the ball late, I need to make the right decisions and trust my teammates and trust myself to take open shots and make the right play.” — Mitchell

  • Mitchell scored 29 points, but shot just 10 for 32 from the field, 5 for 17 from 3-point range and had four turnovers, including that crucial steal by Holiday late in the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter, Mitchell shot 1 for 8 from the field — 0 for 4 on 3-pointers — and scored just two points. Mitchell was being pressured up the court by the Bucks. Conley scored eight points in the quarter on 2-of-3 shooting.
  • Tied at 100 with six minutes left in the game, Rudy Gay was called for a foul on Holiday. Gay, who didn’t think he fouled Holiday and let the referee know about it, got a technical foul, which seemed to briefly deflate the Jazz. Khris Middleton made the technical free throw, Holiday knocked down both of his foul shots, and Antetokounmpo made two buckets ‚ a quick 7-0 run for Bucks.
  • Danuel House Jr. sustained a left knee injury in the first quarter and was ruled out for the rest of the game. His absence, along with Bogdanovic, affected the Jazz’s spacing. Quin Snyder said that House Jr. would get an MRI tomorrow.

Flat Notes

  • The Jazz got some good looks in the last five minutes of the game, but couldn’t knock them down. Missing a key player in Bogdanovic, Utah played the Bucks close, but faltered at the end.