MILWAUKEE — The Bradley Center, home of the Milwaukee Bucks, is currently advertising for an upcoming WWE Smackdown 2013 event that is being billed as one stop along "The Road to WrestleMania."
In an early undercard, the Utah Jazz suffered a painful 109-108 smackdown in overtime by the Bucks on Monday night in that building.
Milwaukee guards Brandon Jennings (20 points, 17 assists) and Monta Ellis (34 points) delivered painful 3-point blows in the waning moments of regulation and overtime to lead the Bucks to their fourth straight win in front of a rowdy crowd.
"It's a little painful losing these kind of games, and especially this time of season where we are," said Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin, who was forced to use a bunch of young players yet again because of injuries and absences. "But they do great things for you going forward if you get the lesson now."
For multiple reasons, though, this one left a mark.
Not only was it the Jazz's fourth loss in five games, but it dropped Utah (32-28) into eighth place in the Western Conference, only two games ahead of the surging Lakers (30-30).
And this was on a night the Jazz rallied from a 13-point deficit to take a three-point lead into the final 10 seconds of overtime despite only having 10 players available.
"This is a tough loss," Jazz big man Derrick Favors said.
For Favors, it was particularly tough because he had to watch the final quarter and overtime session from the bench after having one of his best-ever games in the first 36 minutes.
"It was tough. It is what it is, man," said Favors, who had 23 points and 15 rebounds but didn't play after the third quarter. "It's just stuff you've got to deal with."
Coincidentally, the physical night included a body slam against one of the "visiting villains" — one that might have changed the outcome had it been called but went unpunished.
Though the referees weren't distracted by somebody getting clobbered in the back by a folding chair, the officials didn't blow their whistle when Bucks center Larry Sanders hammered Gordon Hayward as he attempted a game-winning drive in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.
"I tried to make a play and draw some contact, but didn't get a foul called or anything," Hayward said. "They made a good defensive play so we just moved on to overtime."
How much contact occurred on that drive when it appeared the 6-11, 235-pound Sanders came crashing down on Hayward?
"Obviously not enough for there to be a foul," he said, "so I guess it was a good defensive play."
That no-call forced an overtime session in which JJ Redick scored eight points, including two treys, and then Ellis all but pinned the Jazz to the mat with a clutch 3-pointer with 14.7 seconds left.
Utah still had a chance to send the game into double overtime, but Randy Foye and Paul Millsap missed consecutive shots beyond the arc in the final eight seconds.
"We got what we wanted. We had an opportunity to win the game," Millsap said. "I missed a free throw. Jennings hit a tough shot to tie the game up (and force OT). We had some lapses on defense. They got some open 3s. On the road, that's tough."
Millsap played through his ailing left ankle sprain after missing the past two games and finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds.
And he wasn't even the Jazz's best big man on the court on this night.
The 6-foot-10 Favors started at center alongside Millsap and scored 14 of Utah's first 18 points and had 17 points and 14 rebounds by halftime.
"I was just being aggressive," Favors said, "playing my game, getting rebounds."
Despite his big effort, however, the Jazz found themselves trailing by as many as 13 points in the third quarter.
One big factor in that was a rough night — to say the least — by three-fifths of the Jazz's first five. Point guard Earl Watson, shooting guard Randy Foye and small forward Marvin Williams combined to score zero points on 0-of-15 shooting.
That, by the way, is the second time those three starting positions have gone scoreless in the past five games, although Jamaal Tinsley was the starting playmaker when that last happened against the Clippers 10 days ago.
Milwaukee especially took advantage of that starting group in the third quarter — Utah's nemesis of late — by outscoring the Jazz 30-17 to take a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Corbin said he would consider making changes to the starting lineup.
"We've got to evaluate it and see. I'm concerned with our energy," Corbin said. "I'm concerned with the energy to begin the ballgame, and not be able to get ourselves going before. Nobody's making shots there, so we've got to be able to get something going earlier in ballgames, especially with Al being out."
While those three players struggled, the crew Corbin put in at the beginning of the fourth quarter nearly got this four-game road trip off to a great start.
With Alec Burks (19 points), Hayward (13 points, seven boards, five assists), DeMarre Carroll (13 points), Millsap and Kanter (18 points, 10 rebounds), the Jazz rallied out of the double-digit deficit to briefly take the lead down the stretch.
In the end, the Jazz's 21 turnovers, a missed Millsap free throw with 14.9 seconds remaining in regulation that could've sealed the deal, and the Bucks' sensational guard line proved too costly.
Corbin noted some defensive mistakes that allowed Redick to get open on his 3-pointers, but was proud of the group that sparked the rally.
"We've got to learn from it. The young group, you can't be upset at their effort," he said. "I thought they played extremely hard to give ourselves a chance to get back into the ballgame and then to have a chance to win it."22 comments on this story
They played so well, in fact, Corbin opted to keep the guy having the night of his NBA life on the bench. The Jazz's coach said it was "not hard at all" to make the decision to keep Favors on the bench in favor of Kanter or Millsap.
"They were playing well. This is the NBA. You want to finish games. You get a feel for where you are this time of year," Corbin said. "They were going good and the matchups were good. Their body language looked like they were ready to go, so you ride it out."
And add one more tough element to a tough night.