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Jazz topple Bucks 123-108 with big fourth quarter comeback

In a game that had both teams experiencing significant momentum shifts, the Utah Jazz managed to stage an impressive comeback in the fourth quarter, erasing a 19-point deficit and securing a 123-108 victory against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday night at the Delta Center.

Putting an end to a three-game losing streak, the Utah Jazz kicked off the fourth quarter with a crucial 16-0 run, extending it to 21-3, ultimately outplaying the Bucks (33-17), who were playing on the second night of a back-to-back.

The turning point came with a three-pointer from Lauri Markkanen, giving the Jazz a 104-102 lead with 6 minutes and 23 seconds left in the game. Despite a brief lead for the Bucks at 105-104 with a Giannis Antetokounmpo basket, the Jazz’s momentum proved too much to overcome.

In the final 5:37, Utah dominated, outscoring the Bucks 18-3. The Bucks struggled throughout the entire fourth quarter, managing to convert only 4 of 17 shots from the floor.

Reflecting on the game, Bucks guard Malik Beasley acknowledged the team’s effort, stating, “I think we had great looks. I think the offense was good, defense was OK. Not enough to over-panic. Just one of those games, back-to-back, in Utah. I think that we make a couple of those shots, things change.”

Despite holding a significant lead of 19 points in the first half, the Bucks couldn’t sustain their advantage. The altitude of the Rocky Mountains appeared to affect the Bucks, and the Jazz capitalized on their fatigue.

Expressing frustration, Bucks head coach Doc Rivers noted, “We couldn’t script better shots. Every shot was wide open, but everything was front rim. Probably should’ve gone to the post more but they were going to double and make us throw out and still would’ve led to a jump shot. Good job by them.”

While the Bucks secured their first win under Rivers on Saturday in Dallas, they faced challenges on the road trip, losing three of four games since he took over on the bench on Jan. 29.

Despite the hurdles, there is optimism in the Bucks’ locker room. Antetokounmpo commented, “When everything settles down, we are going to be very, very fine, I really do believe. I believe we are trending towards the right direction.”

The game witnessed star players Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard playing through injuries. Lillard, dealing with a sprained left ankle, struggled, shooting 5 for 16 from the field. Antetokounmpo, despite a strong performance with 33 points, 13 assists, and seven rebounds, felt the impact of the challenging schedule.

A heated moment occurred in the game when Malik Beasley shoved Collin Sexton after an incident involving Antetokounmpo. Both Beasley and Sexton received technical fouls.

With key players like Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez sidelined, the Bucks turned to second-year player AJ Green to make an impact. Green, impressing with his toughness, scored 10 points in 11 minutes, showcasing his ability from beyond the arc.

The Bucks faced challenges with their short bench, but Rivers sees potential in the young players. He emphasized the difficulty of integrating unfamiliar faces into the roster but expressed confidence that some of them could contribute positively in the future.

Injury management led to Khris Middleton sitting out the game for the Bucks, marking his eighth absence of the season. Meanwhile, Brook Lopez remained out for personal reasons.

On a positive note, the Bucks announced the hiring of assistant coach Pete Dominguez, who brings valuable experience in video analysis, player development, and defensive coaching.

The Bucks look ahead, navigating injuries and building on defensive improvements, as they aim to find their rhythm under Coach Doc Rivers.

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