Different month, same results in Milwaukee Bucks loss to Utah Jazz

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Andrew Bogut

AP Photo/Tom Mihalek

The Milwaukee Bucks shot a better percentage and connected on just as many three pointers at the Utah Jazz, but couldn’t overcome a late surge from Deron Williams and an offensive rebounding onslaught that gave the Jazz 14 extra shot attempts.

The rare occurrence of a Bucks game-high shooting percentage (45.1%) couldn’t stop the Jazz (42.2%) from a late-game 13-2 run and walking away with a 95-86 victory.

By Jake McCormick

Taking on Utah at the end of November without Andrew Bogut, the Bucks were outrebounded 32-26, including a 16-9 Jazz offensive rebound advantage. But even with Bogut, who led the team with 19 points and 9 rebounds, Milwaukee had no solution for Utah’s intensity on the glass Saturday night, losing the battle of the boards again 46-31.

First quarter: 3-13Utah field goals in the paint

The Utah Jazz rank eighth in the NBA in shot attempts at the rim, while the Milwaukee Bucks are ninth in opponent field goal percentage at the rim. The Bucks won this battle of wills in the first quarter, as the Jazz shot 3-13 in the paint and built a 16-4 lead to start the game.

Second quarter: 4-7 fg, 10 pts from CJ Miles

The Jazz have made a living off of digging a hole and pulling themselves out of it this season, and a 6-0 run at the end of the second quarter brought Utah within three points of Milwaukee to close out the half. CJ Miles carried the Jazz offense with 10 of their 24 quarter points.

Third quarter: 28-22 Jazz advantage

Despite a couple of timely corner three point shots off the hands of Keyon Dooling, the Bucks weren’t able to stop Utah from taking and maintaining a 71-68 lead off a 28-22 third quarter advantage. Both teams went to their bread and butter often, as Deron Williams had 10 points while Andrew Bogut’s low post game netted him nine.

Fourth quarter: 16-6 Utah run

This was Utah’s ninth straight “comeback” win, capped off by a 16-6 run in the game’s last six minutes. The Jazz shot 40% in the game’s final quarter, but the Bucks returned to their all-too familiar sub-40% shooting territory (37.5% to be exact) with no player making more than one shot from the field.

Pessimist: 25 Jazz second chance points (10/14)

With the way Utah was able to convert on second chance points and off the glass on both ends, you’d swear that the Bucks and Jazz were the 29th and fourth best rebounding teams in the NBA. The reality is that those rankings should be flipped, despite the Jazz’s 14 offensive boards, a decrease from their 16 offensive boards in their 109-88 win over the Bucks in Utah.

The combined 16 rebounds (five offensive) from Jazz wings Andrei Kirilenko and CJ Miles indicates they were consistently in the right place at the right time, and shows just how much better Utah was at putting themselves in position under and around the basket on every shot.

Optimist: 28 Bucks bench points

The Bucks bench has averaged 31 points over the past six games, which is a major sign that Scott Skiles is starting to figure out his most potent rotations throughout the course of the game. Although 26 of Milwaukee’s 28 bench points against Utah came from Drew Gooden (12 pts) and Keyon Dooling (14 pts), both players hit huge shots early and late in the game to keep things close.

In fact, their production was noticeable enough to overshadow the continuation of the Corey Maggette disappearing act that is sure to spawn a wave of posts across the Bucks blogosphere questioning his role in Skiles’ system and potential as a trade piece.

Realist: One step at a time

The media (mostly ESPN) spent the first month of the season obsessing over how the Miami Heat could possibly succeed after failing to win more than nine of their first 17 games as a team. Well, to a lesser extent, the same argument could be applied to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Any team with only six returning players needs time to adjust to each other’s strengths and weaknesses and grow into their roles, and Milwaukee is no exception. If there was anything you could deem a moral victory over the Bucks two straight losses to elite Western Conference opponents, it’s that a made shot here or there would’ve turned those games into wins.

After what we saw over the first month of the season, and taking Milwaukee’s River Styx schedule over the next 30 days, the Bucks are starting to look more and more like the team we thought they were going to be when the season began.

Follow Jake on Twitter.

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