Joe Ingles Quiet In Utah Return, Bucks Smash Jazz

Mar 24, 2023, 10:01 PM | Updated: Mar 27, 2023, 12:19 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – The Milwaukee Bucks put on a clinic on how to dominate a basketball game in Joe Ingles return to face the Utah Jazz.

The Jazz, playing without Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson, and Collin Sexton were crushed by Milwaukee 144-116.

Milwaukee held the Jazz to 38 percent shooting from the floor and 27 percent from three while knocking down 55 percent of their own field goals and 44 percent of their threes.

Simone Fontecchio scored a career-high 26 points to lead the Jazz while Grayson Allen had 25 for the Bucks.

Joe Ingles Quiet In Return To Utah

Though Joe Ingles had a quiet six point, six assist, one rebound outing in his return to Utah, Jazz fans let him know he was appreciated.

Fans offered a large ovation when the team played a tribute video for the longtime Jazzman early in the first quarter, and another warm welcome when he subbed into the game.

“Watching that brings back a lot of good memories and eight years of pretty good times — great times,” Ingles said. “It was nice to have that obviously coming back and to see a lot of familiar faces.”

The Australian guard averaged 8.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.8 assists and is the Jazz franchise leader with 1,071 made threes over eight seasons in Utah.

Ingles has been a key contributor in Milwaukee off the bench and is one of the reasons many view the Bucks as the favorite to win the NBA title.

“From the day he walked through our doors, he’s impacted our facility, the spirit, the energy, he’s funny, he’s hard, he’s edgy,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.

“He’s just somebody you want to have in your program. And watching him work through his rehab was impressive coming back when he did was impressive. And now we’re reaping the benefits of a great player on the court.”

The veteran has averaged 7.3 points, 3.2 assists, and 3.1 rebounds in 39 appearances for Milwaukee.

Sexton Hopes To Return This Season

Despite missing the last 13 games due to a hamstring injury, Collin Sexton said before Friday’s game that he hopes to return this season.

Sexton suffered the injury in Memphis in the final game before the All-Star break, and hasn’t seen the floor since.

“I’ve just pretty much been ramping up and just trying to get back out there,” Sexton said. “It’s tough just sitting there and watching.”

The Alabama product has been a reliable backup for the Jazz in 47 appearances this season but has been in and out of the lineup in his first year with the team.

Sexton is averaging 14.3 points, 2.9 assists, and 2.2 rebounds while shooting an efficient 50 percent from the floor and 41 percent from the three-point line.

After trading Mike Conley, Sexton’s role was set to increase moving into the starting lineup, but he guard appeared in just five games before injuring his hamstring.

Having missed a month’s worth of games, Sexton knows time is running out to retake the floor this season.

“The staff that we have and the trainers that we have, they’re trying to make it soon just because they know how bad I want to be out there,” Sexton said. “So we’re working day and night, early in the morning, even before practice, even before shoot around just to get back.”

Sexton is facing a tricky timeline to make his return as the Jazz have only nine games left to play this season, and only 16 days left to play them.

The team won’t be able to spend two days in the same city until April 3 when they return home to prepare for the Los Angeles Lakers, leaving limited practice opportunities for Sexton to ramp up his play before a live game.

“We’ve just been trying to do other things in the weight room and other things on the home court to continue to simulate game reps and it’s very tough,” Sexton admitted. “But I feel like we’re moving in the right direction.”

Jazz Turn Sights To Kings

After falling to the Bucks on Friday night, the Jazz have a difficult turnaround facing the Kings in Sacramento on Saturday.

The Jazz beat the Kings in their matchup earlier in the week, despite playing without Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson, and Sexton.

Ochai Agbaji scored a career-high 27 points on 8-14 shooting including 6-10 from the three-point line.

The Jazz are winless since beating the Kings, dropping the final two games of their four-game homestand to fall to 35-38 on the season.

The Kings meanwhile have hit a rare slump late in the season dropping back-to-back games against the Jazz and the Boston Celtics.

Vying for the second seed in the West, the Kings losing streak dropped them to third in the West, and into a likely first-round match-up with either the Golden State Warriors or the Los Angeles Clippers.

De’Aaron Fox scored 37 points to lead the Kings in Utah, though Domontas Sabonis scoring 11 points on 4-11 shooting going head-to-head with Walker Kessler.

Utah Jazz Next Broadcast

The Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings will tip off at 8 pm MT on Saturday night. The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. It can also be streamed on DirecTV Stream and FuboTV.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Joe Ingles Quiet In Utah Return, Bucks Smash Jazz