Utah is winless after the first two games of its longest road trip of the season but a close defeat to one of the league’s top teams might have given the Jazz a boost.
They’ll try to build off that performance and keep their losing streak brief when they face the lowly Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night.
After collecting back-to-back wins, Utah was blown out 99-79 by Cleveland on Friday to open its six-game trek but the Jazz fell just 94-91 to Indiana two days later. They forced the team with the NBA’s best record to rally from an early double-digit deficit, and they were within one point of the Pacers with five seconds remaining.
Gordon Hayward had a team-best 21 points in his home state but missed a potential tying 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
"I was proud of the way we came back and fought against a team with a real good record, especially here at home,” Hayward said.
Utah (21-38) has lost five of seven since a season-high three consecutive wins and has dropped 10 of 12 on the road. Its next opponent has fared even worse lately.
Milwaukee (11-47) has lost 23 of 27 since New Year’s Day and is 6-24 at home this season. The Bucks gave up at least 100 points for a 10th straight game and for the seventh consecutive home contest Saturday in a 107-98 loss to Brooklyn.
"We didn’t get the stops we needed," said forward Khris Middleton, whose 16 points tied Ramon Sessions for the team lead. "We let them get so many things too easy. Our room for error is very small."
Milwaukee gave up 100 or more points in its final 13 games in 2007-08 and in its 2008-09 opener. The Bucks haven’t given up 100 or more in eight consecutive home contests since a 14-game stretch in 1993-94.
They kept Utah under the century mark in the only other matchup this season but just barely in a 96-87 road defeat Jan. 2. Hayward scored 22 points and Derrick Favors had 21 to lead six Jazz players in double figures.
Utah has won 14 of the past 17 matchups in the series and five of the last six, but has lost in three of its past four visits to Milwaukee.
The Jazz fell 109-108 in overtime in its most recent visit to the Bradley Center on March 4. After taking a one-point lead, Utah missed five of its six shots in the final two minutes of the extra period.
All three players who scored in double figures for the Bucks in that game are no longer on the team. Favors tied a career high with 23 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for Utah.