SALT LAKE CITY The Utah Jazz couldn't blow this one playing against an undermanned Milwaukee Bricks, err, Bucks, team that was without Andrew Bogut, Mike Dunleavy and Beno Udrih.
The Jazz did let the Bucks get close in the fourth quarter before clamping down and holding them without a basket for nearly eight minutes. Utah earns solid marks for winning a game it should have.
GUARDS: Just when Devin Harris plays a game that Jazz fans are accustomed to seeing from their point guard, he gets hurt. Harris dished a season-high six assists before suffering a strained left calf. He only took two shots and went scoreless in 17 minutes. Raja Bell was in the starting lineup again, but only played 12 minutes. He sat out the entire fourth quarter. He hit a 3-pointer in the third quarter to make it 49-40, and again played well on defense. Milwaukee's starting backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Carlos Delfino combined to shoot 4-for-26, so that certainly raises Utah's grade. Grade: A-
FORWARDS: There's a reason why Paul Millsap is a fan-favorite. He left the game with a knee injury early in the fourth quarter, but quickly returned. His shot was on, as he went 6-for-7 from the field and had 13 points and 12 rebounds. Gordon Hayward was also much better than he was on Monday night, as he had 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting. Milwaukee's starting frontcourt made 7 of 26 attempts and was badly outplayed by Millsap and Hayward. Grade: A
CENTERS: Al Jefferson was dominant offensively with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Enes Kanter continues to provide the Jazz with a spark when he plays. The Jazz were fortunate that Andrew Bogut didn't play, and surprisingly let Drew Gooden have a big night with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Grade: B+
BENCH: Derrick Favors is reaching fan-favorite status with the highlight-reel plays he provides on a nightly basis. He blocked five shots, scored six points and had seven rebounds. Alec Burks scored seven of his nine points from the free-throw line and dished six assists. The Jazz's bench outscored the Milwaukee reserves 31-16. That's big. Grade: A-1 comment on this story
COACHING: It's fun to watch what type of lineup combinations coach Tyrone Corbin comes up with. He started the fourth quarter with Jamaal Tinsley at point guard, Burks, Kanter, Miles and Favors. After he replaced Kanter with Jefferson, the Jazz held the Bucks without a basket for nearly eight minutes. Fans are probably still questioning why Bell is starting, but you can't argue with the results in three home games. Grade: A
OVERALL: Don't be concerned with style points, Jazz fans. A win is a win with this young group, even if it came against a shorthanded Milwaukee team that couldn't throw it in the ocean on this night. The Jazz were solid on defense, got contributions from several players and improved to 3-0 at EnergySolutions Arena. It wasn't pretty, but it didn't need to be. Grade A-