Everyone knew the compressed four-month, 66-game NBA schedule would produce some less-than-aesthetic basketball. Tuesday’s Utah Jazz/Milwaukee Bucks contest was evidence of that, as Utah won a rough-and-tumble game 85-73. But Coach Tyrone Corbin will take it, as it pushes his team to an even 3-3 to start the season.
Perhaps the rushed training camp with little practice time in between games caught up with both teams. A game that was lacking in points was instead filled with turnovers, offensive fouls, missed free throws, errant outside shooting, injuries and a few questionable calls. There was little momentum for either squad until Utah enjoyed a spurt to finish a sloppy outing. Utah played its sixth game in eight nights.
Al Jefferson led Utah again with 26 points and 10 rebounds, while frontcourt mate Paul Millsap tossed in 13 and 12 of his own. Dwight Gooden, who often plays well against the Jazz, finished with 24 points (after scoring six total prior to this game). Stephen Jackson, who was in midseason form attitude-wise, scored 16 points on just 5-17 shooting.
Defense: While Milwaukee’s offense (30.5 percent from the field) might have remained in Wisconsin, the Jazz’s defense was a big factor, particularly in the first half. Averaging a league-best 6.6 blocked shots per outing, Utah contended the Bucks’ shots all night. Led by Derrick Favors’ five swats, the Jazz finished with an impressive 12 blocks. Coupled with nine steals, the Jazz were fairly active on defense.
Injuries: Devin Harris (strained left calf) and Josh Howard (strained left quad), both scoreless, exited the game early with injuries. Millsap had to exit briefly with a hyperextension, but he toughed it out to finish the game. For one of the few teams with the minimum 13 on their roster, this is something to watch.
Milwaukee had bad fortune on its side even before tipoff, as the team was missing Beno Udrih and Mike Dunleavy due to injury. Former Utah Ute Andrew Bogut also sat out, due to personal reasons.
Alec Burks freed: The Twitter rally on behalf of Alec Burks (#FreeAlecBurks) probably was not the cause, but Jazz fans got an extended look at the young rookie. Burks put on a fine show, scoring nine points and dishing out six assists. He played almost as many minutes tonight (28) as the previous four games (29). He was confident as he aggressively got to the line 10 times.
Practice makes perfect: Coach Corbin will have some areas to address with the team between now and Friday’s game. Among these:
- Free-throw shooting: Finishing 18-28 (64.3 percent), it wasn’t until late in the third quarter that Utah made both foul shots when sent to the line. Ladders, anyone?
- Turnovers: The Jazz came into the game second in fewest turnovers (12.6 per game), but nearly doubled that with 24 Tuesday night. Eleven different players had a miscue, with eight having two or more.
David Smith is providing instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage this season. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.