SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — When rookie Donovan Mitchell spun by Giannis Antetokounmpo and made a layup in the fourth quarter, he felt like he was walking on air.
“When I made that move on him, I started smirking just because he’s an All-Star and it’s cool to make that sort of play on a guy like that,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell scored 24 points and the Utah Jazz made a season-high 18 3-pointers in a 121-108 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night.
Mitchell, who made a career-high six 3s, had 10 points in the fourth quarter as the Jazz broke open the game and finished with a season-best 56.8 percent shooting from the field.
When Antetokounmpo was announced in the starting lineup after he was questionable with a sore knee, Mitchell lit up because of the respect he has for the “Greek Freak”.
“I was watching him when I was in college. He’s been dominating and it’s really impressive what he’s been doing,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell has been impressing as well and made even difficult plays look easy against Milwaukee, including a desperation 28-foot jumper to beat the shot clock that kept Utah ahead by double digits midway through the final period.
Rodney Hood scored 21 and Derrick Favors added 16 for the Jazz, who have defeated the Bucks seven times in a row.
Antetokounmpo had 27 points and 13 rebounds after missing the last game, but showed frustration several times during the contest as the Bucks played from behind most of the game.
“We’ve just got to play harder, put more effort into it,” Antetokounmpo said. “If you get frustrated, there’s no point.”
Malcolm Brogdon scored 19 points, while Eric Bledsoe and Tony Snell each contributed 18 for the Bucks, who shot 53 percent but couldn’t keep up with the quick Jazz passing on the perimeter.
The Jazz closed the third quarter with eight straight points, including 3s by Thabo Sefolosha and Hood, to lead 95-85.
“When we play at our pace, it’s very hard to guard,” Hood said. “We move the ball. We attack seams. We make the game easy for each other.”
The Jazz reserves, who had 53 points, have posted more than 50 points in three of their last four games.
Utah played without Rudy Gobert, who missed his eighth with a bruised knee, and the Bucks found little resistance on many drives to the basket. But they couldn’t match Mitchell’s six 3s and Joe Ingles’ five makes from beyond the arc.
The Jazz have won 16 consecutive games at home over the Bucks.
Bucks: The Bucks shot 10 free throws before the Jazz took their first. … Brogdon made 5 of 6 from 3-point range. … After connecting on 13 of their first 14 free throws, the Bucks twice missed both free throws on trips in the fourth quarter.
Jazz: For the first time, the Jazz wore bright gold uniforms with blue and green numbers and trim. … Raul Neto got a technical with 8:30 left in the game. … The Jazz are now 4-4 with Gobert out of the lineup.
ATTACKING THE BLITZ
Milwaukee’s aggressive pick-and-roll defense backfired against the Jazz. “When they come out and blitz, you make the first pass and the bigs are doing a great job finding the corners and the wings,” Mitchell said. “That’s where I got a lot of my shots and Joe got his shots.”
THE BUCKS STOPPED HERE
Coach Jason Kidd on what his team lacked: “Effort, energy and caring. Sprinkle in a little trying. We didn’t do that tonight. We tried hard on the offensive end but we didn’t do anything on the defensive end.”
The Jazz tied their season high of 31 assists that was just set in a 125-85 win at Orlando on Nov. 18. “I thought we were incredibly unselfish and offensively we were connected, trying to help each other,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “You’ve got to share the ball. I think our guys knew that and they really did it.”
Bucks: Visit Sacramento on Tuesday.
Jazz: Host the Nuggets on Tuesday night.