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Instant analysis: Utah Jazz bounce back from two-game skid to beat Milwaukee Bucks

In this Dec. 26, 2020 file photo, Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) dribbles up court in Salt Lake City.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The Utah Jazz ended their two-game skid with a convincing 131-118 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night, in the fourth of their seven-game road trip.

High notes

  • The Jazz finally had an offensive game that didn’t look forced. They took what was given to them, swung the ball around when they had to restart the offense or when an option was cutoff, worked in space, shot the air out of the ball and just overall looked really cohesive.
  • In the second half and in particular in the fourth quarter, the Jazz’s defensive intensity started to match what they were showing on offense.
  • For the first time this season, Quin Snyder played Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors together. At the end of the first half I was already impressed with the variety of defense that the Jazz were throwing out in an attempt to slow down Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was feasting early on. The Jazz tried a free throw level wall of three players, doubling, playing zone and then later went to their big-big lineup with Gobert and Favors and while the offense wasn’t as pretty the defense translated so well and Giannis was held to just 10 points in the second half after scoring 25 points before halftime.

“They did a good job of running, rebounding, defending, moving on the perimeter. Those bigs were spaced with Brook (Lopez) and Bobby Portis out there, being able to close out to them and continue to rotate. It was a very good force. I think they did a good job.” — Jordan Clarkson on playing with Favors and Gobert on the floor

  • Jordan Clarkson was an absolute bucket for the Jazz and helped them keep the game competitive through the first half scoring 20 of his 26 points in the first two periods.
  • Donovan Mitchell has had quite a few games where even though he’s scored it hasn’t been pretty and he broke out of that on Friday night. It’s so much easier said than done to take what the game gives you and to be patient, especially when things are tight or heading downhill, but Mitchell was offensively near perfect against the Bucks. He finished with a team-high 32 points on 12 of 24 shooting, including 4 of 9 from deep to go with seven assists and just one turnover.

“Pushing the pace, not trying to do everything, but just go out there and just let the game come and just play. Then defend, you know losing yourself within the game in that way.” —Donovan Mitchell

  • Royce O’Neale scored 18 points, all from 3-point range, going 6 of 8.
  • With the Jazz having a lot of trouble guarding on the perimeter lately and just not a ton of grit, it’s hard to look across the floor at Milwaukee’s Donte DiVincenzo and not be impressed. The guy just hustles and plays the right way. He’s a sticky defender and can knock down a shot. He’s not flashy, but it’s all the little things that add up.
  • Just 10 turnovers for the Jazz. Much better.

Low notes

  • The NBA’s taunting rule is one of my least favorite things about the league. It’s such an opinion-based rule and up to the official’s discretion on when they want to use it and it completely disrupts the flow of the game. O’Neale hit one of his many 3’s over the top of Thanasis Antetokounmpo and then celebrated and received a taunting technical. It’s not like he was screaming in the guys’ face. He just celebrated a little. Let the man live.

Flat notes

  • Tonight Joe Ingles’ ironman streak ended at 418 games. It’s not a bad thing and the guy absolutely deserved a night off, but it’s the end of an era and of trying to extend his record even farther.

“There are a lot of things I didn’t realize that Joe does until he’s not there. It’s not even just the game. You got pregame warmup you got little handshake, intro, handshake, him yelling certain things in the locker room with 20 minutes on the clock. There’s just little things that you miss, and then you get on the court and it’s his presence.” — Donovan Mitchell

  • At one point early in the third quarter Giannis Antetokounmpo took a really hard fall from pretty high up, landing flat on his hip. He was shaken up and on the ground for a while before heading to the locker room and eventually coming back to the court. He wasn’t really the same after the fall. It’s possible that part of the reason the Jazz were able to slow him down in the second half was because Antetokounmpo wasn’t himself for most of it. Either way, you hate to see guys get hurt and not seem to shake it.