Thursday’s matchup of the Utah Jazz and the Milwaukee Bucks pitted the teams with the NBA’s two worst records. While the prospects were less than tantalizing, the game ended up being fairly competitive. Utah managed to keep things afloat in the fourth quarter, coming away with a 96-87 win.
Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors led the way. The former tallied 22 points, four rebounds, three blocked shots, two assists and two steals in a fine all-around game. The latter was very big inside, hitting 9 of 16 from the field. Favors had 21 points, 11 rebounds and four steals. Larry Sanders, battling back from an injury, paced Milwaukee with 16 points.
Bench production: The Jazz enjoyed solid performances off the bench. It was Utah’s second unit that produced a nice lead in the second quarter, a lead the team was able to sustain throughout. As a result, head coach Tyrone Corbin stayed with them longer than usual, and the move paid dividends.
Enes Kanter was strong inside, looking confident against Milwaukee’s reserves. He finished with 11 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots in 19 minutes. Alec Burks’ shot was a bit off, going 4 of 12 from the floor. He still produced 13 points, three assists and four rebounds. Lastly, Diante Garrett solidified his role as the primary backup point guard. He hit a pair of 3-pointers and made two nice drives to the basket en route to 10 points and four rebounds.
Along with Jeremy Evans, each reserve sported a +/- mark of +7 or better. Conversely, every Buck bench player was negative.
Outside shooting: Once again, Utah’s perimeter marksmanship greatly helped secure the win. Hayward’s shot looked smooth and in control. He managed to connect 3 of 5, leading the way to a 7 of 16 night for the Jazz — 43.8 percent.
On the other hand, Milwaukee struggled mightily. Its 4 of 13 performance in the second half was not great, but it looked stellar compared to its 0 of 9 disaster in the first half. When it was said and done, Utah outscored Milwaukee by nine points from beyond the arc, which happened to be the same advantage the Jazz had at the final buzzer.
Odds and ends:
• The Bucks were missing several players due to injury, including some of their better rebounders. Utah, led by Derrick Favors’ 11 caroms, won the battle of the boards, 43-34. Milwaukee only had six offensive rebounds, which was a positive for Utah, which has struggled on the defensive boards this season.
• Only 15 of Utah’s 36 assist efforts succeeded — just 41.7 percent.
• Of the 10 Bucks who played, only two were on last season’s roster.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also writes for Salt City Hoops (ESPN's Jazz affiliate). He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.