Hot starts for Grayson Allen, Brook Lopez propel Bucks to 144-116 victory over Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY – The Milwaukee Bucks swept a season series against the Utah Jazz for just the second time this century with a 144-116 victory Friday night at Vivint Arena.

The Bucks joined the 2001-02 team in the accomplishment after beating the Jazz at Fiserv Forum on Dec. 17. Milwaukee improved its league-best record to 53-20 and won their third straight while Utah fell to 35-38.

Grayson Allen, Brook Lopez’s hot starts propels blowout win

From the opening play of the night – a Grayson Allen layup off a slick pass from Jrue Holiday – the Bucks were literally off and running toward a blowout victory. Allen made his four shots to stake the Bucks an 11-0 lead in the opening two minutes.

Scroll to continue with content

“That was quick,” Allen said with a grin. “It’s a lot of fun to start off like that. You get the first two to go in, then everything feels like it’s going in.”

On the other end of the court, Brook Lopez blocked three shots in that time frame, and the Bucks never really looked back.

“I’m just doing my job, you know?” Lopez said. “The Jazz kept attacking the basket so I was just, in response, trying to protect the basket.”

BOX SCORE:Bucks 144, Jazz 116

As for Allen, Lopez added, "I mean, we’ve seen Grayson do that time and time again. He’s so dangerous out there and so talented that it makes it pretty easy for us.”


Utah got to within six at one point, but it was quickly suppressed by the Bucks’ stifling defense and torrid shooting.

Milwaukee shot 50.9% overall and 46.7% from behind the three-point line in the decisive first half, taking a 72-58 lead. Six different Bucks hit threes (they made 14 total) and it could have been much worse for the Jazz had it not hustled its way to 17 second-chance points off 11 offensive rebounds. Utah also had 13 points off eight Bucks turnovers.

Then in the third quarter, the Bucks opened up an even bigger lead as they cleaned up those loose ends. Utah only had three more second chance points and two more points off turnovers.

They led 115-85 after three, a total that matched their season high through three periods of play.


Allen finished with 25 points in 22 minutes, going 8 for 14 from the field and making 5 threes.

“He was incredible. He was incredible," Giannis Antetokounmpo said. "He was aggressive, getting downhill, offensive rebounds, guarding. He was incredible. For me, that’s the Grayson I want to see every night. Obviously, maybe every night he’s not going to score 12 points in a row or whatever the case might but I want him to be aggressive, I want him to go out there and look for his shots, try to break down the defense, get in the paint, create for himself, create for others. He needs to be aggressive at all times, at a high level.”

Lopez finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocked shots in 26 minutes.

“I don’t know the right word, but I think the focus you want to come out with, the purpose you want to come out with, Grayson and Brook did that for us,” Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Kind of set the example for everybody and everybody, I think, I was very good tonight. Was a good win for us. Impressive.”


Pat Connaughton started in place of Khris Middleton and scored a season-high 22 points. He made 6 of his 10 three-pointers. Holiday had 18 points and eight assists in 25 minutes.

Bucks center Brook Lopez denies Jazz center/forward Udoka Azubuike next to the basket during the second half for one of his seven blocks Friday night.
Bucks center Brook Lopez denies Jazz center/forward Udoka Azubuike next to the basket during the second half for one of his seven blocks Friday night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has double-double, takes hard foul

The Bucks’ MVP candidate had been on a tear since missing three games over seven days with right hand soreness from March 6-12, averaging 32 points, 11.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game over his last five heading into Friday night, but three minutes into the game he was fouled hard on his right hand by Talen Horton-Tucker, and then fell to the court.

Antetokounmpo grabbed his right wrist – which he initially injured on Feb. 16 in Chicago – and took a few moments to collect himself to shoot his free throws. He did not come out of the game, but he only took three shots the rest of the quarter. He did help push the pace and set the offense, however, with four assists.


He finished the first half with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting, to go with seven assists and five rebounds.

Perhaps it was due to the wrist – or the hot shooting of his teammates – but after the fall Antetokounmpo wasn’t initiating contact or powering through defenders to get to the free throw line, but rather picking his spots (2 three-point attempts, an uncontested dunk, left-hand and transition layups).

After the game he said he was not affected by the fall.

“No," he said. "I feel no pain.”

He then smiled.

Antetokounmpo’s night was over after three quarters, where he finished with 24 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in 25 minutes. He was a sparkling 10 for 13 from the field, despite any potential issues with his shooting hand, but was 3 for 6 from the free throw line.


“He’ll take care of it, we’ll check on him like we do every day to be honest with you,” Budenholzer said. “Impressive what he does. He plays through so much every night, tonight’s not any different. He’s special.”

Brook Lopez shows rookie Walker Kessler a thing or two

Utah’s big man was named the NBA’s Western Conference rookie of the month for February as he averaged 11.4 rebounds, 10.6 points and 3.2 blocks per game. The 7-foot, 1-inch first-round pick out of Auburn has come on of late for Utah, and Jazz head coach Will Hardy said Kessler’s rim protection had gotten better throughout the year as he’s become familiar with NBA defensive rules and establishing himself as a defender who can block shots without fouling.

But there are few doing that job better than defensive player of the year candidate Lopez.


The Bucks’ 7-footer came into the game averaging 20.1 points and 2.7 blocks per game since the all-star break, and is leading the league in total blocks. He also blocked at least four shots in a game 18 different times.

Lopez blocked two Kessler dunk attempts and four total shots alone in the first quarter to set a tremendous defensive tone for the Bucks, which helped them race out to a 19-4 lead in the early going. Antetokounmpo and Lopez also went at the rookie, drawing two early fouls.

“Obviously we all have to step up to challenges when they’re there, and that’s exciting,” Lopez said of the matchup with Kessler. “It’s fun to play traditional bigs. You don’t get to do that too often in this league. So it’s a great challenge and it’s just the same way any one of us would step up to an individual challenge any given night.”

Kessler ended up heading to the bench early in the third quarter as Allen drew two more, sending him to the bench.


Lopez meanwhile continued to dominate the interior, as 14 of his points came in the paint. He also had two assists and swatted seven shots.

It was the sixth time this season he had at least six blocks in a game. Kessler’s night was done after his fourth foul, as he finished with eight rebounds, seven points and two blocks in 17 minutes

Milwaukee’s Ochai Agbaji has increased role for Jazz

Ochai Agbaji, a rookie out of Kansas, started his 11th straight game for the Jazz against the Bucks, but he found the going a bit rough against the best defensive team in the league. Agbaji played 25 minutes, but was just 1 for 8 from the field for six points. He did go 4 for 5 from the free throw line.


In his previous 10 starts he was shooting 37% from behind the three-point line while averaging 12.5 points and 1.8 assists.

The last month has been a stark change in role for the 22-year-old guard, as he started twice while playing about 15 minutes per game over his first 39 (he had not played in 23 games, also).

“Ochai is a guy that we've had to push a little bit to be aggressive because of his role early in the year — where he was on the floor, kind of the shots he was getting — he was a little bit careful,” Jazz head coach Will Hardy said. “And we need Ochai to be a little bit less careful and go for some more. So I just tried to encourage him as much as I can to maintain an aggressive mindset. For him to know that I have belief in him. We have belief in him, his teammates have belief in him and we need him. I think he's done a great job, obviously.”

Five numbers

2 Games in a row the Bucks have won in Utah after losing 19 straight from 2001-22. They had not done that since winning three straight in Utah between Feb. 3, 2000 and Oct. 30, 2001.

7 Magic number for the Bucks to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference (combination of Milwaukee wins and Boston losses).

10-1 Bucks record when Allen makes at least 4 three-pointers. He was 5 for 9 vs. the Jazz.

23 Road wins for the Bucks, tying them with Philadelphia for second-most in the NBA. Boston has 24.

72 Place on the all-time steals list for Holiday, as he passed Quinn Buckner. Buckner was the No. 7 pick by Milwaukee in the 1976 draft and played for the Bucks until 1982. He is the franchise leader in steals with 1,042.

Bucks forward Khris Middleton will not play against the Utah Jazz Friday night.
Bucks forward Khris Middleton will not play against the Utah Jazz Friday night.

Video of the game is the applause for Joe Ingles in his return to Utah

During the first timeout of the game, the Jazz played a tribute video for Joe Ingles and then re-introduced him. Ingles played eight years in Utah, and was a driving force behind Autism awareness and how Salt Lake City first responders handled calls concerning people with sensory issues.

Ingles played 22 minutes off the bench, scoring six points on 2 three-pointers and handing out six assists.

Plays of the game were Grayson Allen's hot shots

Allen was picked No. 21 out of Duke by the Jazz in 2018 and he spent one season with the team before being dealt to Memphis, but there was some leftover home cooking on the table for the Bucks guard in the first quarter. He scored 14 of the Bucks' first 19 points of the game. He set the tone early for Milwaukee, which scored 40 points in the opening frame.

Khris Middleton ruled out vs. Jazz

Middleton was held out of Friday night’s game to continue to manage the right knee soreness that plagued him from December through January. He has not played in back-to-back games this season, and the Bucks head to Denver on Saturday.

Over his last eight games Middleton has averaged 18.3 points and 7.0 assists in 31.1 minutes.

Bucks injury report

  • Khris Middleton (right knee injury management), out

  • Jae Crowder (left calf soreness), out

  • Meyers Leonard (left calf soreness), out

  • Goran Dragić (left knee soreness), out

Who do the Bucks play next?

Milwaukee heads to Denver on Saturday night to take on the top team in the Western Conference in the Nuggets and two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokić. The Nuggets had been the best team in the NBA until the Bucks recently overtook them for the top spot. And, there is a broader MVP conversation that includes Jokić and Antetokounmpo, so the matchup is highly anticipated. Jamal Murray is averaging 20.1 points per game for Denver, with Michael Porter Jr. averaging 17.3 and Aaron Gordon 16.6.

More:Milwaukee Bucks take aim at the No. 1 seed for the playoffs: 'We want it'

More:Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Hank Aaron: Who is the best athlete in Wisconsin sports history?

Our subscribers make this reporting possible. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Journal Sentinel at

DOWNLOAD THE APP: Get the latest news, sports and more

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Hot starts for Allen, Lopez propel Bucks to 144-116 victory over Jazz