SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Al Jefferson scored a season-high 26 points to lead the Utah Jazz to an 85-73 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.
Paul Millsap had 13 points and 12 rebounds and Gordon Hayward added 12 points for the Jazz. Hayward scored five points on back-to-back possessions and Millsap added a jumper on the next offensive set to clinch the game with 1:07 to play.
Drew Gooden had 24 points and 12 rebounds for the Bucks but didn’t have the inside presence of center Andrew Bogut as the Jazz had plenty of point-blank looks at the basket. Bogut missed the game due to personal matters and Mike Dunleavy was out with groin pain.
Led by Brandon Jennings’ 4-for-19 performance, the Bucks shot just 31 percent and had 10 shots blocked by the Jazz, including a career-best five by Derrick Favors.
The game marked the third back-to-back set of the compressed season for the Jazz. They lost the back end of the other two, but were playing at home on consecutive nights for the first time since 2008 and improved to 3-0 in Energy Solutions Arena.
The Jazz experienced injury problems of their own with Josh Howard and Devin Harris. With 1:53 left in the first quarter, Howard went to locker room with left quad strain and did not return. Harris left the game with 6:37 left in the third period with a strained left calf and also missed the rest of the contest. .
Millsap also limped off the court midway through the fourth quarter but returned to help the Jazz close out the Bucks. The injuries forced the Jazz to play rookie Alec Burks a season-high 28 minutes and showed some odd combinations coach Ty Corbin hadn’t played before.
The Bucks couldn’t hit open jumpers and had little luck driving into the paint. Stephen Jackson was the only other Milwaukee player in double figures with 16 points but shot 5 for 17.
The Jazz, who lead the league in blocked shots, took advantage of Bogut’s absence early to get 30 points in the paint in the first half and block nine Bucks shots on their way to a 43-34 halftime edge. Poor free-throw shooting and 14 first-half turnovers were all that kept the Bucks within striking distance.
Utah finished with 24 turnovers, but was in front since midway through the first quarter.