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Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz drives against Bobby Portis of the Milwaukee Bucks. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
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Jazz Cruise As Bucks Blink In Second Quarter

Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz drives against Bobby Portis of the Milwaukee Bucks. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah –Β The Utah Jazz beat the Milwaukee Bucks 129-115 to extend their win streak to six.

Overall, the Jazz have won 11 straight games at home, have beat the Bucks 19 consecutive times in Salt Lake City dating back to 2001, and are off to the best start in franchise history at 21-5.

Rudy Gobert (27), Joe Ingles (27), Donovan Mitchell (26), and Jordan Clarkson (25) all broke the 20-point barrier for the Jazz in the win.

The Bucks were led by Giannis Antetokounmpo who scored a game-high 29 points, 27 of which came in the second half as Milwaukee lost consecutive games for only the third time this season.

Don’t Blink

The Bucks came out and showed why they have the best offensive rating in the NBA in the first quarter. Despite Joe Ingles 4-4 start from the three-point line to open the game, the Jazz never led by more than nine in the first quarter and led by only four after 12 minutes.

Milwaukee puts so much pressure on the rim with Giannis Antetokounmpo that even when a team sells out to stop him, as the Jazz did in the first half, the Bucks have enough shooting around their superstar to punish teams who focus entirely on the two-time MVP.

The Bucks shot 54 percent from the floor and 41 percent from three in the first quarter and put up a good effort to hang around. They actually managed to keep the game close through the first nine minutes of the second quarter before they made a major mistake.

What was that mistake? They blinked.

The Jazz are playing at such an enormously high level right now that at their best, if an opposing team slips up for even a few possessions, the Jazz will push their lead to double-digits, and rapidly put the game away.

Here’s how the Jazz did it against Milwaukee:

The Bucks cut the Jazz lead to eight with 2:41 left in the first half on a Brook Lopez layup. The Jazz answered with a three from Donovan Mitchell to push the lead to 11, Bobby Portis misses a three on the next Bucks possession, the Jazz counter with a Joe Ingles three to push the lead to 14.

Khris Middleton and Mitchell trade three-point possessions, then Portis misses a layup leading to another Ingles three. Lopez misses another three which results in a Rudy Gobert layup and the Jazz built an eight-point lead with 2:41 left in the game to a 17 point lead going into the half.

While the Bucks scored only five points in their final five possessions, the Jazz managed to score 14 points on six possessions and essentially ended the game at halftime.

The Jazz led by double-digits from the 2:28 mark in the second quarter on, never allowing Milwaukee to get their deficit to single digits. They say basketball is a game of runs, but it seems right now, that rule only applies to the Jazz.

They go on a run, the opposing team can’t answer, and the game is over.

Jazz Exciting Player Rankings

Pistol Pete Maravich is one of the most exciting players in NBA history. His circus passes, deep shooting and incredible ball handling have rightfully earned him a spot in the basketball Hall of Fame.

He left the franchise in 1980, then there was about a 20-year gap until the Jazz had another highlight-reel player.

Okay, that’s not totally fair. Darrell Griffith was an incredible high flyer and one of the best dunkers in team history. Jeff Hornacek hit a ton of circus shots in his career despite his relatively unathletic frame while going on ridiculous hot streaks as a shooter.

Of course, two guys named John Stockton and Karl Malone did a few fun things also, but true excitement was few and far between.

Then, in 2001, Andrei Kirilenko joined the Jazz fold and pumped a dose of ultra-modern basketball into the team’s veins that hadn’t been seen in a long time.

AK-47 led the league in blocked shots as a small forward with 3.3 per game, he averaged at least one steal per game each year during his 10 seasons with the Jazz and was one of the league’s most devastating defenders.

He was also a 2021 point forward playing two decades too early, was an extremely crafty passer, an impromptu dribbler, and great at finishing over bigger players at the rim.

After Maravich, Kirilenko was truly one of the most exciting Jazz players in franchise history. Now, out of nowhere, the Jazz have two more players vying for the crown, and they seem to pass the title back and forth depending on who is holding the ball.

Jordan Clarkson repeatedly shows his impressive ball-handling and scoring prowess as he takes over the offensive load for the Jazz second unit. Clarkson isn’t the Jazz most prolific scorer, but he might be their most skilled.

His combination of footwork, change of pace, improvisation, and overall wizardry with the ball in his hand makes him a joy to watch.

But, it would be unfair to mention Clarkson without discussing just how much fun Donovan Mitchell is to watch. The guard started his career as a high-flying dunker, then became a prolific scorer, then became a clutch scorer, then scored 50 points twice in the playoffs, then, this season became one of the most exciting passers in basketball.

Seriously, every night Mitchell throws a pass that seems to top the highlight he threw in the last game, and this game was no different.

Mitchell had a series of incredible passes against the Bucks, but none of them eclipsed this crosscourt, one-handed, hook pass to a streaking Joe Ingles, right into his shooting pocket for the open three.

Teams have started throwing the hammer pass that goes across the entire baseline, usually on a bounce pass, but rarely do you see a lob like this, especially in a half-court set.

The Jazz have had a handful of truly must-see players in their history. It just so happens, they have two such players sharing the floor right now on one of the best teams in franchise history.

For now, this is how I’d rank the most exciting players in Jazz history.

  1. Pistol Pete Maravich
  2. Andrei Kirilenko
  3. Donovan Mitchell
  4. Jordan Clarkson
  5. Jeff Hornacek

But Mitchell better not slip up, because Clarkson’s hands are reaching for the bronze medal.

#SadTweets

During games, I like to follow the Jazz opponent to see how they post highlights, and sometimes incorporate them into my tweets. It’s also fun to watch how they approach creating a voice for their teams to appeal to their fan bases.

I can’t tell if the Jazz are making opposing social media team’s jobs really hard, or really easy during these blowouts.

Here, look at this post from the Bucks at halftime. There’s a graphic, it has the score, but the caption expresses the general exasperation most teams must feel when they face the Jazz.

“Two quarters left to play.”

Do these social media employees for the other team’s either have the night off recognizing there’s little they can say to cheer up their fan base, or does this make the job even harder because they want to tweet good news, but simply can’t find anything to get excited about?

The Bucks tried to make the game interesting for their social team by trimming the Jazz lead to 10 points in the final minutes, but ultimately this was the Bucks final tweet of the game.

I’ve written about four-malities before, or my idea that the Jazz enter some fourth quarters with such enormous leads the final quarter is mostly superfluous.

Charlotte got a good taste of that, as they were down 16 when they posted this going into the final period,

Unfortunately for some teams, it’s not even worth posting a third-quarter score, knowing a loss is on the horizon.

The Hawks saved their shame for their final post of the game. Considering the Jazz were up 17 going into the fourth quarter, so it’s not like the game had much excitement.

This is a fun twist on the trend from the Pistons social media team. The Jazz led by 22 at the half so there were relatively few posts throughout the game.

After Detroit cut the lead to 7, the Pistons team took a nice optimistic approach. Mind you this tweet came when the score was 108-101 with 3:20 left in the game, and according to ESPN’s win probability, the Jazz had a 95 percent chance of winning.

Finally, I feel for the poor Mavericks tweeter. The Jazz absolutely handed it to the Mavericks in consecutive games in Salt Lake City.

This first tweet was particularly tough, and I think we’ve all been there.

They aren’t looking forward, there’s no optimism about the final two quarters, simply looking at the work they’ve done, recognizing it hasn’t been enough.

At least in their next game, they pretend to feel some excitement about the final two quarters, even though they trailed by 16 after getting blown out in the last game.

I don’t know how long this run will last in Utah, but for social media teams on the Jazz upcoming schedule, circle this day. You’re either going to have a nice night off or a miserable evening.

Here’s wishing you the best.

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