SALT LAKE CITY — No Andrew Bogut. No Drew Gooden. No inside presence.
Those three factors equaled no chance for the Milwaukee Bucks against the Utah Jazz on Monday night, especially on the boards and in the paint. In their 109-88 win over Milwaukee, the Jazz outrebounded the Bucks 48-26 and outscored them 54-18 in the paint.
Jazz center Al Jefferson, the biggest beneficiary of Utah's size advantage, said it was a no-brainer to attack the depleted Bucks in the paint.
"We had to (take advantage)," said Jefferson, who recorded his seventh double-double of the season with 22 points and 11 rebounds. "It was a no-brainer. Why shoot jumpers? Let's get the ball inside to the paint. They didn't have no shot blockers there. They called (a play for Jefferson) 100 times. When they started covering on me, they left other guys open so we just took advantage of it."
Facing a short-handed Milwaukee team gave the Jazz the chance to work on their rebounding. Utah went through a stretch of being beaten on the boards in six consecutive games earlier this season. The Clippers recorded 11 more rebounds than the Jazz on Sunday afternoon.
The Jazz practiced some basic principles against Milwaukee and they paid off.
"First of all, we have to block out," said Jefferson. "That's where we took the challenge, hitting our guys, stop ball watching. We did a great job rebounding tonight."
Rebounding was a sore subject for Bucks coach Scott Skiles. His team went through a recent stretch where it outrebounded eight consecutive opponents. But without Bogut and Gooden, the team's top two rebounders, the Bucks were destroyed on the boards. The 26 rebounds they collected were a season-low.
"At halftime we only had three guys that had a defensive rebound on the roster," Skiles said. "I don't know if I've ever seen that in a game."
Paul Millsap had nine rebounds, and Andrei Kirilenko collected eight boards for the Jazz. The 6-foot-1 Earl Watson had six rebounds — tying him with Milwaukee's Ersan Ilyasova, the Bucks' top rebounder in Monday's game — and Deron Williams had five boards.
"We didn't have our big bodies tonight and the guys we had were trying their best to get the rebounds, but with Kirilenko and guys just flying in there trying to tip the ball and stuff like that it's just kind of hard," said Bucks guard Brandon Jennings.
Bogut, the former Utah Ute All-American and No. 1 overall draft pick of the Bucks, has missed four straight games while dealing with back spasms. Gooden, who has plantar fasciitis, dressed for Monday's game but Skiles said prior to the contest that he wouldn't play.
Their absences were felt by the Bucks, and taken advantage of by the Jazz. Jefferson shot 11-for-14 with most of his baskets coming in close range. Millsap shot well at 4-for-7 in a little more than 29 minutes of play.
"Our size, I think, hurt them a little bit," said coach Jerry Sloan. "We had bigger guys, especially Al. He got inside. That makes a big difference when we get some scoring in there."