Gordon Hayward was money while the Milwaukee Bucks couldn’t buy a basket down the stretch.
Hayward scored 13 of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter and the Utah Jazz held on for a 101-99 victory over Milwaukee on Thursday night as the Bucks missed their last five shots in the closing minute.
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"We escaped," said Hayward, who made 9 of 10 free throws in the final quarter. "They had chances at the end. They stormed back and got a six or seven (point) lead on us, but we played really hard tonight."
The Jazz seemed in control after a 15-3 run, taking a 101-92 lead on two free throws by Hayward with 2:35 remaining. But the Bucks pulled within the final score on Jared Dudley’s 3-pointer from the top right with 1:29 left.
The Bucks had a final opportunity when an officials review awarded them the ball out of bounds under the basket with 7.1 seconds left. Brandon Knight missed a jumper with two seconds left and Zaza Pachulia missed the tip-in at the buzzer.
"We had opportunities, but you’ve got to give them credit," Dudley said. "Gordon (Hayward) was aggressive the whole game, got to the foul line. We had some shots at the end, but this has been happening to us, losing these home games. We understand we don’t have a huge home-court advantage because we’ve got to win fans over, keep winning, keep playing hard, and that will come."
Enes Kantner, who had 24 points and 17 rebounds in Utah’s 106-92 loss at Cleveland Wednesday, had 23 points and 16 rebounds in this one. Dante Exum, the fifth overall pick in the draft, scored a career-high 15 points on five 3-pointers in just his second start in 43 games for the Jazz.
"I just tried to step into my shots and do what I do normally," said Exum. "It’s the same routine. They just happened to fall tonight."
Knight and Dudley had 16 points apiece for Milwaukee, which has now failed to score 100 points for 10 straight games. The Bucks have lost six of their last seven home games since Dec. 13.
"They are a good team, and obviously a very, very good defensive team," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "I feel like we play hard and we compete. Tonight we had some shots fall, and we didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot with the turnovers too many times."
Hayward was 10-of-12 from the free-throw line, the same as the entire Bucks team. Overall, the Jazz made 23 of 28 free throws and also were 14 of 31 from beyond the arc. Milwaukee made 5-of-13 three-point attempts.
"We were exchanging baskets and then they made a lot of free throws," Pachulia said. "We put them on the line a lot and it definitely wasn’t good for us. They stayed in the game and then were able to extend the lead by hitting a couple of threes."
The Bucks erased a 53-47 halftime deficit with a pair of third-quarter spurts.
They opened the period with a 7-2 run to pull within 55-54. After a Rudy Gobert dunk made it 57-54, the Bucks answered with an 11-1 burst, opening a 65-58 lead on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s drive down the lane.
Utah scored the first six points of the second period for its biggest lead of the half at 32-16.
Two free throws by Rudy Gobert put the Jazz up 52-42, but the Bucks whittled the lead to 53-47 at the half. Milwaukee’s reserves outscored the starters 26-21 in the first half.
Jazz: Forward Derrick Favors, averaging 15.9 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, was not with the team due to personal reasons. Jazz officials did not give out any further details on Favors, who played Wednesday night in Cleveland, scoring 12 points in a 106-92 loss.
Bucks: Milwaukee had not scored 100 points in any of its last nine games since a 104-94 victory at Charlotte on Dec. 29. "It’s not a concern," said Bucks coach Jason Kidd. "We play both ends and we are proud of that. We try to hold teams to under 100 points and we have been able to do that a couple of times this year. We aren’t an offensive juggernaut of a team, and a lot of games have been close."