SALT LAKE CITY — It wasn't as if the Jazz could point the finger at just one or even two players when it came to the turnover problem that plagued the team in its 105-95 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.
No, it was a full team effort.
Every player — outside of Kyrylo Fesenko, who played 15 seconds — contributed to the 26 giveaways and the 33 points the Nuggets scored from them. It was as if the team caught a quick-spreading virus.
"It is just like missed free throws," said point guard Deron Williams about the turnovers being contagious. "You turn the ball over a couple times and you hear the boos. You start getting impatient and you start going one-on-one, things like that, and it leads to more turnovers."
The snowball effect went through all the starters — Williams had three of the mistakes, C.J. Miles one, Carlos Boozer five, Mehmet Okur three and Ronnie Brewer two — and hit the bench just as hard as Andrei Kirilenko had two, Paul Millsap one and Ronnie Price and Wesley Matthews four apiece.
Denver played inspired defense despite missing its two best players, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.
"They did some kind of job defensively on us," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. "They made it very difficult for us all night long. We turned the basketball over, they got steals from it, and they ended up scoring 33 points out of that."
Williams felt that the Nuggets didn't do anything out of the ordinary to force that many miscues from the Jazz, but followed a pattern that other opponents have used before.
"They switch a lot," said Williams of the Nuggets defensive philosophy of changing which man they are guarding. "We've struggled a lot with teams that switch everything. And again tonight, once they switched we stopped executing and starting trying to go one-on-one, and you saw what can happen."
While most of the credit goes to Denver, Sloan felt the Jazz were unusually off their offensive game to help allow that many turnovers.
"First of all, we're trying to run an offense we've been running for years, and we weren't even in sync for that," Sloan said. "The guys set the screens about four or five feet further out and we didn't know whether to curl or take the counter off of it, and when they have you that confused, it's pretty tough to be able to win."
The Jazz certainly proved that.
Despite 12 first-half turnovers, they only trailed 51-47 at the break, but as the team gave away the ball over and over in the second half, Denver stretched its lead to as many as 16 points in the fourth quarter.7 comments on this story
"We were sloppy a little bit with 26 turnovers," said Kirilenko. "You can't win a game that way."
Whether it was poor execution, the constant switching by the Nuggets or simple lack of concentration, the fact remains that the Jazz turned the ball over way too many times to beat the Northwest Division-leading Nuggets.
"I'm not going to take anything away from them," said Williams. "They executed their game plan. They got stops and forced the turnovers."