Depleted by injuries and weary from a draining loss to Denver the night before, the Bucks’ game in Utah had all the makings of a contest that was lost before it had started. Milwaukee gave a game effort for a quarter, then fizzled to the finish in a 100-86 loss.
The game shifted when Utah hammered the Bucks on the boards in the second quarter. Without Larry Sanders, who sat out with a back injury sustained the Tuesday, the Bucks bench was thinner — both literally and figuratively. When Samuel Dalembert went out to rest, Milwaukee tried to squeeze out a few boards from Ersan Ilyasova, Mike Dunleavy, and John Henson.
It didn’t work. Utah had nine offensive rebounds, and 17 overall rebounds in the quarter. Milwaukee had just five — and three of those came from Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. Meanwhile, Utah’s bigs – Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Al Jefferson – took whatever they wanted off the glass.
It got so bad that Jim Boylan resorted first to Joel Przybilla, who promptly picked up three fouls in a single minute, then to Drew Gooden, who earned his fouls slower but in a more violent fashion.
As a result, a six-point first quarter lead dissolved into an eight-point halftime deficit.
For the second straight game, Dalembert played better than any other Buck: ten points, 12 rebounds, four blocks, four steals. If the idea here is to showcase his abilities before the trade deadline, it’s working. Dalembert demonstrated soft touch for the second straight game and gave the Bucks their only physical presence inside. He worked diligently to deny both the position Jefferson wanted down low as well as the angles the Jazz use to get entry passes to him.
Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings both earned a sizable chunk of free throw attempts, but Utah kidnapped most of Jennings’ offensive arsenal after the first quarter.
Mike Dunleavy was off. His grimaced face told the story for him as he clanked shot after shot and fell to the floor a disproportionate number of times. For some inexplicable reason, Jim Boylan mercilessly left Dunleavy in the game for 16 consecutive minutes of the second half as the Bucks’ deficit undulated repeatedly between nine and 15 points. Sure, the Bucks were often within a shot or two of making it a close game, but Dunleavy’s shots clearly weren’t falling (3/13 FG), and he trudged around the court sporting the body language of an inmate.
Luc Mbah a Moute missed the game with a sore right knee — the same one on which he had surgery in the offseason. Marquis Daniels started in his place and the difference was (unsurprisingly) negligible.
1) Dunleavy Face
2) Drew Gooden’s main contributions for the night were hard fouls and missed 21-footers. Here he shares a passionate embrace with Enes Kanter.
3) When the Bucks went ‘skinny’ in the second quarter, they weren’t doing enough of this. Henson, in particular, let the Jazz push him around repeatedly — as both a shooter and a rebounder. He demonstrates incredible skill and footwork each game, but has to get stronger and work on shooting free throws.