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Butler and Hughes Spark Comeback Victory Over Milwaukee

The regular season may be a week away, but fans inside Vivint Arena didn’t act like it on Wednesday night. 

Led by a spirited fourth quarter rally from Jared Butler and Elijah Hughes, Utah came from behind to take down the Milwaukee Bucks 124-120 in their final preseason game of the year.

“That group, I really challenged them to lift their level, whether it be defensively or running,” head coach Quin Snyder said. “He (Butler) was the catalyst for them. … I thought those guys did a really good job when they were in. It’s important because those minutes coming in, being ready right away to compete. … Those little things take focus. We make them important, and I thought those guys really did that more and more as the game progressed for them.”

Fans were forced to wait for Butler to make his home debut as the rookie guard missed Monday’s game against Dallas due to a non-COVID illness. 

But the wait appeared to be worth it.

Butler proved he belongs in the league as he finished with 16 points, seven assists, three rebounds, and two steals in 22 minutes of action. 

“He’s going to be in the league a long time,” Donovan Mitchell said of Butler postgame.

Butler never shied away when guarded by Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday—widely considered one of the top defensive guards in the league. He controlled the pace and knew when to attack the rim, be aggressive with his shot or find the open man in the corner. 

“I think Jared is finding a balance between his ability to create, whether it be for himself or his teammates, and just his habits getting used to playing with people,” Snyder said. “I think that he’s learning. If I could take it away from analyzing every piece of his game. … I thought he got better throughout the course of the game.”

Either way, his decision-making and ability to be in constant attack mode is why he’s making a solid case to be a part of Snyder’s rotation in the regular season.

“I hope so,” Butler said when asked if he’s made a case to be a part of the rotation. “I think it’s all about trust. … If I’m a head coach and playing with the team with the best record in the league, why do I need to put this rookie in? That’s how I’m looking at it, and I’m just trying to make the case of why you should.”

With it being the final game of the preseason, Snyder went with his usual starting lineup and rotations throughout the first half. 

Mike Conley got going early with a pair of three-pointers in the opening minutes while Mitchell took advantage of mismatches defensively and relentlessly attacked the rim. Add in Bogdanovic’s 14 points, and the three of them combined for 39 of Utah’s 63 first half points.

The back-and-forth battle in the opening 24 minutes had the feeling of a regular season game with each team making runs and executing at a high level on offense—with Utah taking a 63-61 lead at the break.

Snyder elected to rest the starters for the second half, with Jordan Clarkson, Eric Paschall, Hassan Whiteside, Butler, and Miye Oni as his starters. 

Whiteside played exceptionally well, looking much more comfortable on both ends of the court.

“I thought Hassan was really good defensively,” Snyder said. “Really competed, I was happy.”

That unit was able to keep pace with the Bucks, who went with their starters to begin the final 24 minutes. 

With both teams giving their regular rotations a break in the fourth quarter, the Jazz overcame an eight-point deficit with just over six minutes to play and pull out the win. 

Utah closed the game on an 18-6 run as Hughes scored all 12 of his points during that timeframe. 

Clarkson led six Jazz players in double figures with 18 points, adding a game-high eight rebounds in 23 minutes. Conley finished with 13 points while Mitchell added 12—all of which came in the first half for both of them.

Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo (six rebounds, five assists) led the Bucks in scoring with 25 and 21 points, respectively. Holiday added 13 points, five assists, and four rebounds, while Brook Lopez finished with 11 points and six rebounds.

Utah now has six days off before it begins the regular season against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, Oct. 20. To purchase tickets, click HERE.

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