MILWAUKEE — Much of the Utah Jazz team was in attendance with Jae Crowder sitting courtside at Fiserv Forum on Sunday to witness Marquette University’s 70-52 win versus Georgetown.
Afterward, Crowder separated from Donovan Mitchell, Grayson Allen, Derrick Favors, Ricky Rubio, Royce O’Neale, Georges Niang and Naz Mitrou-Long to deliver a postgame message to his alma mater.
Then on Monday, the Jazz competed on the same court against the Milwaukee Bucks, until the injury bug hit the squad.
Rubio suffered a right hamstring injury, less than five minutes into the game versus Milwaukee, as the Jazz lost 114-102. The team was also playing without Thabo Sefolosha (right hamstring), Dante Exum (left ankle) and Grayson Allen (right ankle sprain).
“I thought it was good. We’ve got guys that (can play),” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder on playing short-handed. “Raul (Neto) came in, and he’s got a big heart and he’s a good player.
“We have confidence in the guys we have, and Royce (O’Neale) gave us some good minutes.”
Neto would end with 10 points, six rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes, while O’Neale hit eight points with four rebounds in 12 minutes. Utah would lead by as many as 11 points early in the third, before being held to 16 points in the fourth.
Donovan Mitchell started hot, scoring 26 points off a season-high six treys, but went 0-for-5 in the fourth with seven total turnovers. He refused to admit that his extra playmaking responsibilities, without Rubio and Exum, were the reason for the late struggles.
“I try my best to keep the same mindset,” Mitchell said. “When you start to overthink that leads to seven turnovers. Just being able to go and just making reads is what helped me out and it’s what got me to where I am.”
Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo ended with a game-high 30 points and 10 boards before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. He relished going against Utah’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and finished 13 of 30 from the field.
“I’m still stronger than him but he can get the bump and he can contest the shot because he’s so long,” said Antetokounmpo, who posted 17 points in the second half. “It was hard trying to finish over him.”
Gobert ended with 14 points, 15 rebounds, two steals and a block in the cross matchup. Milwaukee forward Khris Middleton said he was surprised that during the first couple of plays down the court Utah chose Gobert to guard Antetokounmpo.
“They were cross-matching with him,” said Middleton, who scored 14 points, had seven rebounds and added five assists. “I can see why, but I think Giannis did a great job of just trying to play around his length and try to use his teammates to get involved.”
The Jazz led throughout much of the first three quarters, even entering halftime with a 62-58 edge against the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference after shooting 53.5 percent. However, that percentage would drop to 30.2 in the second half, including the 16-point fourth quarter.
“They adjusted a little bit, as far as they were switching some stuff,” Snyder said on what changed in the fourth. “We had some great looks. We got inside the paint, and we weren’t able to convert, whether it be making a shot or dropping a lob off.”5 comments on this story
Derrick Favors finished with 12 points and seven rebounds while Crowder posted 12 points with five rebounds and three assists in his former college town. Thon Maker was strong off the bench for Milwaukee with 15 points and five rebounds in 18 minutes.
Milwaukee (28-11) has now won 10 of its last 12 games while snapping Utah’s two-game winning streak. Utah (20-21) will return home to host the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.
“We were just playing. We played hard,” Antetokounmpo said. “It was a tough game. Utah’s a really good team, a team that never gives up and keeps playing through the whole game.”