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Exum, Jazz slip past Bucks

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MILWAUKEE — With forward Derek Favors unavailable Thursday night, Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder tried something different, giving shooting guard Dante Exum his second career start.

The No. 5 overall pick in last June’s draft answered the call, scoring 15 points on five 3-pointers, and the Jazz snapped a two-game losing streak by holding off the Milwaukee Bucks for a 101-99 victory at the Bradley Center.

“We didn’t have our whole team tonight, but I thought everybody pulled together,” Snyder said. “Dante certainly had a good game and made some shots early.”

Exum’s sharpshooting sparked the Jazz offense, which shot 47.5 percent in the first half while connecting on nine 3-pointers. Utah led by as many as 16 in the second quarter, but a late Bucks rally cut the margin to six heading into halftime, and Milwaukee rode a hot start in the third to a 10-point lead.

The Jazz, though, weren’t done. Utah nipped away at the deficit and finally tied the game at 89 on a 3-pointer by forward Joe Ingles with 6:30 to play. Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward took over in the fourth.

Hayward had 11 points through the first three quarters but exploded over the final 12 minutes. He hit two of three shots from the field but made his mark at the free-throw line, where he converted nine of 10 attempts. Hayward also pulled down three rebounds and notched two assists in the final period.

“We escaped,” Hayward said. “They had chances at the end. They stormed back and got a lead on us, but we played really hard tonight.”

Two free throws by Hayward finally put Utah back out front with just over five minutes left, and his layup at the 3:10 mark made it an eight-point game.

Milwaukee had one charge left. The Bucks went nearly four minutes without a basket but snapped the drought on a layup by center Zaza Pachulia with 2:21 to play. Milwaukee used a 9-0 to make it a one-possession game after guard Jared Dudley’s 3-pointer with 90 seconds left.

However, the Bucks couldn’t get any closer, missing their last five shots, including an open 3-pointer by Giannis Antetokounmpo and a 19-footer by guard Brandon Knight in the closing seconds.

“We got great looks, we just didn’t make them,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said.

Knight and Dudley led Milwaukee with 16 points each. Antetokounmpo added 13 points, six rebounds and five steals, and shooting guard O.J. Mayo scored 12 points.

The Bucks shot 45.7 percent for the game and hit of 13 3-pointers but went to the line just 12 times (making 10) compared to 28 free-throw chances for Utah, which made 23.

The Jazz shot 45.1 percent overall, 14-for-31 (45.2 percent) from 3-point range.

“We were exchanging baskets, and they made a lot of free throws,” said Pachulia, who finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. “We put them on the line a lot, and it definitely wasn’t good for us.”

The free-throw differential, combined with 3-point shooting, helped the Jazz overcome 22 turnovers that led to 32 points for Milwaukee.

“We didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot with the turnovers too many times,” Snyder said. “They’re a very, very good defensive team. I feel like we played hard and we competed, and tonight, we had some shots fall.

Hayward paced the Jazz with 24 points. Forward Enes Kanter added 23 points and 16 rebounds, and center Rudy Gobert contributed 14 points and 10 boards.

Reserve point guard Trey Burke added 10 points in 24 minutes off the bench.

“It’s a good win for us,” Exum said. “We needed to regain confidence a bit after those losses. We’re strong as a team, and we knew coming here we needed to get a win.”

NOTES: Milwaukee lost for the sixth time in its past seven home games. … Utah G Dante Exum, 19, tied Washington’s Bradley Beal as the second-youngest player in NBA history to make five 3-pointers in a game. … Bucks G Jerryd Bayless leads the NBA with a .985 free throw percentage, having made his last 49 attempts. It is the longest streak by a Bucks player since Michael Redd made 50 in a row in 2006. He had no attempts against Utah. … Jazz SG Steve Novak grew up in the Milwaukee area and played at Bradley Center while at Marquette University. … Utah F Gordon Hayward averaged 21 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals against Milwaukee last season. … F Ersan Ilyasova returned to Milwaukee’s starting lineup and scored seven points. He was coming off the bench since returning from a concussion-related absence a week ago.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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