MILWAUKEE — There was a point Monday night when the Utah Jazz had scored 54 points in the third quarter of their game in Wisconsin and LeBron James had put up 53 points by himself in Florida.
And that was the good news for Utah.
At least the Jazz were outscoring somebody at that point.
The bad news was that Ersan Ilyasova played like a Turkish LeBron at the Bradley Center.
The worse news was that the Jazz made themselves look like the 1-14 Jazz and the Milwaukee Bucks look like the Miami Heat. The NBA’s cellar dweller cruised to its 12th win with a 114-88 crushing of Utah’s spirit and squad.
“They put their heart (in it),” Jazz center Enes Kanter said of the Bucks. “They fight.”
And the Jazz?
The team that actually looked like it was interested in trying to win, playing hard, and working together the night before in a last-second loss at NBA-leading Indiana?
Not so much fight.
“(Sunday) night, we played the best team in the NBA and were pretty good,” Kanter said. “Tonight, we played the worst team in the NBA, but they beat us and they embarrassed us.”
And the very worst news — if that’s possible considering all of the above — is the fact that the Jazz still have three games remaining on a six-game road trip that’s produced three losses in wildly varying levels of effort.
They were rocked in Cleveland.
They surprisingly kept pace in Indiana.
They acted like they were trying to sing “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!” with crackers in their mouth in Milwaukee.
Utah fell behind 30-21 after the first quarter, got blasted 40-19 in the third quarter, watched Ilyasova go off for a season-high 31 points on 13-of-14 shooting, shot 39.2 percent from the field to the Bucks’ 57 percent, and fell behind by 33 points.
All that, and so much more bad basketball, happened against the Bucks.
It’s uncertain exactly what was being said behind closed locker room doors after the game, but it was being said very loudly.
“It’s frustrating,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said.
Milwaukee, now 12-47, thought it was fantastic. The 26-point margin was, after all, the Bucks’ biggest win of the season.
“You play the best team in the East (Sunday) night and have a good, hard-fought game and have a chance with the effort and the energy and the focus and playing hard and playing smart, and tonight you don’t that,” Corbin added. “I don’t care who you play against, you play like we did tonight and you’re not going to have a chance.”
At wins, that is.
More games like that in the final 22, and they’ll certainly have better lottery chances. To that point, this game might’ve fortified the faith of Jazz fans who’ve been daydreaming of slipping, sliding and stinking all the way into a prime picking position.
The Jazz (21-39) weren’t just bad on this night. They were top-draft-pick bad.
A night after outplaying All-Star center Roy Hibbert, Jazz big man Derrick Favors spent most of the night on the bench while scoring just two points with five rebounds in only 19 minutes.13 comments on this story
Richard Jefferson, Trey Burke and Marvin Williams combined to score 19 points. Gordon Hayward got off to a hot start, but lost his steady hand, finishing with 20 points on 6-of-15 shooting.
On a night when his Turkish compatriot excelled, Kanter was the only bright spot for the Jazz. He scored a career-high 27 points with 14 rebounds.
“I’m just trying to do my job. Like I say every time, doesn’t matter how many points I score,” Kanter said. “We lost the game. I wish I could say we won.”
They can’t even say they competed on this night.
Of course, the Jazz do have bragging rights on LeBron. They scored 88 points. He only had 61.