SALT LAKE CITY — He still scored 32 points, above-average by most standards and often enough to carry any club, even in an NBA playoff game.
But the Jazz were thrilled to hold Carmelo Anthony to just that Saturday night in Game 2 of their first-round NBA Western playoff series with the Denver Nuggets.
Perhaps understandably so, too, especially considering that in Game 1, Anthony scored 42 — and Monday, unlike Saturday night, it was Utah that won, tying the best-of-seven series at 1-1.
Moreover, the Nuggets' All-Star shot just 9-for-25 from the field in Game 2 — not remotely close to the 18-for-25 success he enjoyed in the series opener.
"C.J. (Miles) did a great job on 'Melo," Jazz forward Carlos Boozer said.
"We had guys who stepped up," Boozer added, "and that is how we're going to win games in this series — having everyone pull their weight."
With would-be starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko out for the series with a calf strain, Miles was on Anthony for much of the game — something Jazz coach Jerry Sloan on Monday conceded is "a mismatch, at least" — and throughout most of a decisive fourth quarter.
When he wasn't, rookie Wesley Matthews took a turn.
Those two took the brunt of Anthony's heat in Game 1, but there was nothing but warm remarks about their play Monday.
"That's what we talked about, is trying to get under their skin a little bit," point guard Deron Williams said. "We know they're kind of an intimidating team, but we weren't going to back down. We wanted to be physical with them from the start of the game, make guys work a little bit harder for their points."
"On the other side of the ball, they (Miles and Matthews) did a great job of attacking (Anthony), driving the ball to the basket and making him work a little bit more on defense," Boozer said. "I thought they did a great job setting the tone for the fourth quarter."
Anthony mostly rose up for jumpers over Jazz defenders playing off him a bit on the perimeter in Game 1.
He was made to drive more often in Game 2, though, and that allowed Jazz perimeter players to get some much-needed aid inside — and eventually led to his late-game foul-out.
"We did a great job of helping," Boozer said of Utah's bigs. "We tried to help them get back, tried to help them get set early and make him see bodies.
"We got a couple charges on him, got him into foul trouble. Him not being there the last (25.4) seconds of the game was huge for us."
Sloan said the best approach against Anthony is to "get up and play him as much as you can."24 comments on this story
"You're not gonna stop him," the Jazz coach said after Monday's game, "but at least you hope to gain a little respect from him."
Miles on Monday appeared to do just that, as the Jazz's improved defensive effort did not go without notice by that man around whom it was centered.
"They tried to jam me a little bit," said Anthony, who averaged 28.2 points per game during the regular season, including 33.5 in two games against the Jazz.
"I really don't know what else to say about it," he added. "They tried, and tried a lot of different things. Overall, I think they did their job."