Utah Jazz don't get much from role players
Denver, meanwhile, gets contributions from its 'cavalry'
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
DENVER — Don't expect Carmelo Anthony to call out teammates or for J.R. Smith to post a comment on his Twitter account about the Denver Nuggets being too selfish.
Everybody who played for the Nuggets seemed to contribute on Wednesday night.
It was the Utah Jazz who didn't get enough spark off their bench — or from their non-stars, really, in a 116-102 loss that trimmed their series lead to 3-2.
Carlos Boozer had 25 points and 16 rebounds, and Deron Williams had another stellar showing with 34 points and 10 assists.
But, aside from a 16-point effort from Paul Millsap and Wesley Matthews' 15 points, the Jazz just didn't get much from anybody else.
No Kyrylo Fesenko to the rescue.
No offensive explosion by C.J. Miles.
And not even a point from Kyle Korver.
"They just they played better than we did. They played harder," said Korver, who struggled, going 0-for-6. "We need to come out Friday night and win the game."
That is precisely what the Nuggets did as a team on this night after what Carmelo Anthony called "a rough two days" of introspection, gut-checking and a bit of finger-pointing.
"I think tonight we responded as a unit to the challenge that was at hand," Anthony said. "Everybody stepped up tonight, did their part. ... Everybody played their role tonight and as a result we won the game."
The Jazz all but expected Denver to fight back.
"I think the close-out game might be the toughest game of the series," Boozer said before Game 5, "because both teams are going to scrap and fight and make it a war, and both teams are giving everything they have."
Turns out, the Nuggets gave quite a bit more when the game was on the line in the second half.
After halftime, Denver outscored Utah 66-50 and shot 59.4 percent — compared to 40.9 percent for the Jazz — to turn a two-point intermission deficit into a run-away victory. And eight guys scored for them in the final two quarters.
"I thought we played decent for the first half," Korver said, "then we started off the second half and they kind of did what they wanted on offense and got in a good rhythm and we just couldn't stop them."
Denver simply had too many guys to stop.
Sure, Anthony had 26 with 11 rebounds and Billups added 21 points, but the Nuggets also got 18 points and nine boards from Kenyon Martin. J.R. Smith played like he hadn't since his Game 1 heroics, even hitting a couple of big fourth-quarter threes and 4-of-5 treys overall en route to a killer 17-point effort.
Arron Afflalo had a dozen points; Chris Andersen played like the Birdman of old with 10 points, seven rebounds and plenty of feistiness; Ty Lawson added a spark with six points; and even Johan Petro chipped in four points with six boards.
The Nuggets pulled together after losing one of their main contributors a la the Jazz after Nene left with a left knee sprain following a two-point, four-rebound outing.
"As a team," Anthony emphasized, "we stepped up as a whole."
Unlike Utah, which only got 12 points (nine coming from Miles, three from Fesenko) from the four not in double digits.
Allowing Boozer and Williams to have big nights but limiting everyone else was the strategy Denver hoped to work in its favor before losing twice last weekend at EnergySolutions Arena.
It certainly worked for the home team in this blowout.
"They had more contribution than we did," Miles said. "They were balanced tonight."
The Nuggets knew they needed help from their cavalry coming in. Despite their seeming lack of interest in Utah, a survival mentality was the attitude Billups said the team had with its playoff life on the line.
"I think everybody's just talking about 'Not here, not now, man,'" Billups said at the team's shootaround Wednesday morning. " ... We're not ready for our season to be over, so just coming out and having that fight, that's all."
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