Milwaukee • With several pieces missing, it’s hard to put a new puzzle together.
With Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles being rested, and Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell playing together for the first time, the Jazz never established a rhythm at either end of the court in a 133-99 preseason loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday night.
The Bucks, on the other hand, looked very much like a team that returned four starters — including MPV Giannis Antetokounmpo — from the outfit that lost to Toronto in six games in the Eastern Conference finals after being up 2-0.
• The Bucks shot better from 3-point range, 15 of 36 for 41.7 percent, than the Jazz did overall. Utah shot 37.2 percent, making 32 of 86 shots.
• Aside from the four players held out, every one of the other 16 players got at least six minutes for the Jazz.
• Despite Antetokounmpo’s game-high 11 rebounds, the Jazz had a 49-42 advantage on the boards, including 10-3 on the offensive glass.
“A lot of us, our first time really playing together,” said Conley, acquired in an off-season trade with Memphis. “My first game. I think Donovan’s first time playing with the new group. Just trying to figure out everybody and the system, all the new faces. But we’re still trying to stay true to our principles, do the right things defensively.
Tony Bradley had 17 points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes and Mitchell 14 points for the Jazz, coming off Saturday’s 133-81 victory over the outmanned Adelaide 36ers of the Australian NBL.
“Milwaukee came out, they were physical with us and made it hard,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “And you saw a group that hasn’t played together. That’s not to say, that there were things that we could do, regardless of whether we’ve played together. Good for us to get some feedback from one of the best teams in the league.”
The Bucks, who split two games last season with Utah, took control early, shooting 62.5 percent in the first quarter for a 34-23 lead. Milwaukee extended it to 64-46 at the half and led 101-68 entering the final period.
Antetokounmpo scored 19 of his 22 points in the first half, and Khris Middleton and Brooke Lopez each added 14 points for Milwaukee. Kyle Korver, who averaged 9.1 points in 37 games last season for the Jazz, had nine points for the Bucks on 3-of-3 shooting from beyond on the arc.
“We played a good team tonight, obviously,” Conley said. “They look like they just came back from the Eastern Conference finals. They’re still clicking. We’ve got a lot to improve on. That’s OK.”
Snyder went nine deep in the first half as the Jazz fell behind while shooting just 32.6 percent. Bojan Bogdanovic, who shot a career-best 49.7 percent last season with Indiana, missed all eight first-half shots, including four from 3-point range, while Conley was 0 for 6.
The Jazz defense, which held Adelaide to 38.2 percent shooting, was almost non-existent in the first quarter when the Bucks made 15 of 24 shots. Four starters — Bogdanovic, Jeff Green, Mitchell and Conley — each played at least eight minutes in the opening quarter.
Gobert, the two-time defensive player of the year, averaged 26.3 minutes over eight games in helping France to the bronze medal in the FIBA World Cup that ended in mid-September. He has not played in either preseason game. Ingles averaged 33.9 minutes in Australia’s eight games. In addition, guard Dante Exum (right knee rehab) and guard Emmanuel Mudiay (left hamstring soreness) did not play.
“We’ll get a few more of our guys back, which I think will help us improve, and help us kind of continue that process.” Snyder said. “Rudy and Joe are important to us. This was Mike’s first time playing in the preseason, first time Mike and Donovan playing together. I think those things will come, but there’s also things we can take from this game.”