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Sam Merrill gets mop-up duty, posterized against Utah Jazz

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In this March 6, 2020 file photo, Utah State’s Sam Merrill plays against Wyoming during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Mountain West Conference men’s tournament in Las Vegas.

Isaac Brekken, Associated Press

Leading up to his first game against his hometown Utah Jazz, it was unclear if former Bountiful High and Utah State star Sam Merrill would be available for the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night because of an ankle injury.

As has regularly been the case so far in his young NBA career, however, Merrill did get a bit of playing time at the end of the contest as the Jazz were well on their way to victory.

Merrill checked in with 1:27 remaining and almost immediately got involved in the action, fouling Bojan Bogdanovic, who made two free throws. On the ensuing possession, Merrill got an assist on a jumper from teammate Bryn Forbes, but then on Utah’s next possession, the rookie had a welcome-to-the-NBA moment.

Bogdanovic got past two defenders — Merrill’s fellow rookie teammate Jordan Nwora and Bobby Portis — and had an uncontested path to the basket. Merrill, however, sprinted into the lane (he was guarding Trent Forrest near the corner 3-point line) to try to offer some resistance.

That resistance was futile, however, as Bogdanovic slammed right over him, which got a big reaction from Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell on the bench.

On the Bucks’ next possession, however, Merrill got fouled and made two free throws for his lone points of the night (he missed a 3-point attempt with 18 seconds to play).

For the season thus far, Merrill is averaging 7.3 minutes in six appearances and has scored 14 points with nine rebounds and eight assists.

Merrill is slated to return to Utah soon, as the Bucks and Jazz are scheduled to play at Vivint Arena on Feb. 12.