January 22, 2015

The Utah Jazz got their best player back, although their playoff hopes took a hit as a four-game win streak ended.

The Milwaukee Bucks may face them with some unfamiliar players getting some major playing time.

The Jazz seek to even their mark on this five-game trip Sunday night when they meet a dangerous and loose Bucks team that has won four of five.

Utah (33-36) welcomed back Gordon Hayward in Saturday's 92-85 defeat at Chicago in the opener of this trip after he missed the previous two games with plantar fasciitis of the right foot. Hayward, averaging 20.0 points, was held to nine on 4-of-13 shooting.

The Jazz, who shot 40.7 percent, fell one game behind Dallas for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot. They trail Houston by 1 1/2 games and Portland by 2 1/2.

''I felt fine out there,'' Hayward said. ''We didn't have a good shooting night and struggled a little bit early defensively.''

Utah likely can't afford to lose to a Bucks club it has defeated in 17 of the last 21 meetings. Milwaukee (30-39) may be poised to post a rare win in this series because of this 4-1 stretch as well as a 12-6 run at home.

Coach Jason Kidd opted for an unusual lineup in the fourth quarter comprised entirely of reserves in Thursday's 96-86 victory over Memphis. None of the starters saw any action in the fourth as the Bucks outscored the Grizzlies 28-13 behind Tyler Ennis' 13 points in the period - a career high.

Milwaukee's bench averages 27.3 points - one of the NBA's worst marks.

''They were like grasshoppers out there,'' Kidd said. ''They had a lot of energy and spunk. I guess the coach has been holding them back a little bit. They earned the minutes to finish that game.''

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 15 points and 11 assists and Khris Middleton had 14 points and 10 boards among the starters, and Kidd said he may give his reserves even more minutes if his first five continues to falter.

Ennis could be the beneficiary, totaling 35 points on 55.6 percent shooting in his last four games.

"Not having to rely on guys like Khris and Giannis and those guys that play 45 minutes a game, if we have guys coming off the bench every night, different guys, it will help," Ennis said.

Rashad Vaughn was one of the reserves who played the entire fourth quarter Thursday, but he has since been assigned to the Development League.

There's a chance that guard Greivis Vasquez could see his first action since Nov. 27 after being out following right ankle surgery. Vasquez has been practicing this week.

Milwaukee takes 81.0 percent of its shots from inside the 3-point line for the league's highest mark and averages an NBA-best 50.3 points in the paint.

Derrick Favors led the Jazz with 24 points Saturday as they held a 50-36 scoring edge in the paint.

Utah averages 93.5 possessions per 48 minutes for the league's slowest pace. The Jazz are 9-6 in the second half of back-to-back games.

The Jazz beat the Bucks 84-81 on Feb. 5 behind Rodney Hood's 23 points.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)