One night after facing the team with the NBA’s best record, the Utah Jazz found themselves pitted against the one with the league’s worst mark. And after taking the former to the wire, Utah was pummeled by the latter as the Milwaukee Bucks ran away with an easy 114-88 blowout.
Milwaukee came into the game sporting a horrendous 11-47 record, but looked like anything but the NBA’s lowliest team. The Bucks were sharp, aggressive and focused as they simply dominated their fellow cellar dwellers. Meanwhile, Utah looked like the second half of a back-to-back had them fatigued.
Forward Ersan Ilaysova, who has had an up-and-down season, put in perhaps his best performance of the season. The sharpshooter was making shots from all over the floor and from all angles. Ilyasova finished 13 of 14 from the field en route to a 31-point outing in just 30 minutes.
Utah’s Enes Kanter had one of his strongest games of the season. The Turkish big man hit 8-of-16 shots, but his play inside earned 12 trips to the free-throw line, where he made 11. Kanter ended up with a career-high 27 points while nabbing 14 rebounds in the losing effort.
Disappearing defense: In a rebuilding season, one of the things Utah’s front office has cited repeatedly as being a hoped-for development was a defensive foundation. While the Jazz have had their moments, the defense has been among the NBA’s most woeful. Tuesday was prime evidence of that.
The Bucks did whatever they wanted on their end of the court, taking right to their opponents inside. With Utah failing to offer any resistance, Milwaukee scored at will. It went a stellar 42 of 74 from the floor — 56.8 percent. Its 46 points in the paint was a big part of this and freed the game up enough for the Bucks to hit eight 3-pointers on 61.5 percent shooting. And when they went to the line, they hit their free throws at an 84.6 percent clip.
This and that:
• Utah’s starters managed to make just 14 of their 40 field goal attempts. Take away Gordon Hayward’s 20 points and they tallied just 21 points.
• All five of Milwaukee’s starters, on the other hand, shot over 57 percent each and had +/- marks of +19 or better.
• Rudy Gobert swatted four shots in just 10 minutes.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.