Kessler, George Carry Jazz To Bucks Sweep

Feb 4, 2024, 9:57 PM | Updated: Feb 5, 2024, 11:11 am

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz erased a 14-point fourth quarter deficit to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 123-108.

Seven Jazz players scored in double-digits led by Lauri Markkanen who finished with 21 points.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points and dished out 13 assists in the loss.

With the win the Jazz swept the Bucks in their two-game season series and moved to 25-26 on the year.

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Jazz Youth Leads Comeback Over Bucks

Though Markkanen was the Jazz’s leading scorer, Walker Kessler and Keyonte George were the team’s best players against Milwaukee.

Kessler scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds, but most of his production came in the fourth quarter when he recorded nine points and five rebounds.

George added 19 points and a career-high 10 rebounds as both Jazz youngsters played the entire fourth quarter.

“He’s a young player and so there’s going to be ebbs and flows in terms of his success making shots,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “Tonight was as aggressive as I’ve seen Keyonte on the offensive end in quite a while.”

Buried in the Jazz’s three-game losing streak was George’s reemergence from the worst stretch of his young career.

Over games in late January George shot 6-27 from the floor and recorded nearly twice as many turnovers (11) as made field goals.

But over his last four games, the guard appears to have broken through the rookie wall averaging 16.5 points, 3.0 assists, and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 53 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three.

“These next two months are where people can drop off — feel tired,” George said.
“I’m trying to test myself, see if I can push through the fatigue.”

Persevering through that first-year fatigue could be key for the Jazz as they continue their playoff push.

After Sunday’s impressive performance, the Jazz are 7-2 when George scores 19 points or more this season and just 9-13 when he fails to break double-digits.

Are These The Dogs Days Of The NBA

The Jazz are now 51 games into the 82-game regular season and have 11 days left until the weeklong All-Star break.

Though the Jazz are in the thick of the Western Conference Play-In Tournament race, the length of the season and next week’s trade deadline have to feel like the parachute on the back of a marathon runner trying to reach the finish line.

“I think there’s parts where your brain can see it in the distance,” Hardy admitted. “You can see the break coming, but I think we also you know we’ve got a lot of big games, we play a lot of really good teams coming up before the break.”

The Jazz will host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday before traveling to face the Phoenix Suns on Thursday.

They then return to Salt Lake City to face the Golden State Warriors in a tw0-game series, separated by a meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I’m a believer that you can steal a few [games] this time of year when other people’s minds are drifting,” Hardy said.

The Jazz will get a mini rest from Friday to Sunday after traveling to face the Suns. They then play three games in four nights, including a makeup date with the Warriors on February 15.

Nightly Award: Jazz vs. Bucks

The “It’s Okay To Like Things” Award:

Goes to Jazz fans who stood in long lines Sunday night to get a team-branded Stanley Cup before the game.

The Jazz announced their partnership with the drinkware company earlier this week and it proved to be a major hit.

Before the game fans waited in a lengthy line to get their Stanley cups customized underneath the Jazz logo.

Though I admittedly don’t own one of the now-viral mugs that have drawn both praise for their quality and criticism for their commercial appeal, I think the promotion was a hit, and clearly resonated with a huge swath of the Jazz fanbase.

Just as it’s okay for communities to spend hundreds of dollars on jerseys and sweatshirts that represent their favorite teams, it’s fine for fans to spend $40-60 on their favorite mugs.

The Jazz were smart to market to the crossover audience, and good for the fans who seemed happy with the product.

Utah Jazz Next Game

The Jazz will face the Thunder on Tuesday at 7 pm MST in Salt Lake City. The game will be televised on KJZZ, streamed on Jazz+, and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone.

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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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Kessler, George Carry Jazz To Bucks Sweep