Jack Dempsey, ASSOCIATED PRESS
DENVER — Remember that one time Paul Millsap entered molten mode against the Miami Heat?
Of course you do.
No offense to that 46-point Millsap masterpiece, but that was so last season.
It was cold outside of Pepsi Center and there were no sandy beaches anywhere to be found here Sunday night.
Millsap brought that South Beach-like sizzle into the Mile High City during the Utah Jazz's 106-96 win over the Denver Nuggets.
The Jazz's starting power forward didn't hit any 3-pointers this time, but that's only because he scored so quickly and so often in his fourth-quarter flurry that he didn't have time to get beyond the arc.
Millsap scored 16 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Jazz pick up their most impressive win of the season.
"I just found a rhythm, found a zone," Millsap said. "My teammates did a great job of finding me and going to me, and I just knocked down shots."
After shots after shots.
Millsap dropped seven shots and 14 points in a row — dunking, twisting, fading, turn-arounding, everything — during a five-minute stretch in the fourth quarter when the Jazz turned a tenuous lead into a comfortable win.
It was quite the run for the sixth-year Jazzman, who's been on a roll lately (including a 29-point outing against the Lakers on Wednesday).
"Once he gets in that zone, he's hard to handle," Jazz center Al Jefferson said. "And he was in that zone tonight."
As the cool kids say, the Nuggets got Millslapped.
"He is really impressive," Denver coach George Karl said. "I think he is the key to the Jazz."
By the way, Karl said that during his pregame interview — a couple hours before Millsap hit 8 of 10 shots, grabbed three of his 12 rebounds and dished out two assists in the game-clinching fourth quarter alone.
"Millsap had a 10-to-12 minute stretch where he was the best player on the court," Karl said, after the game.
Utah was playing its guts out and had a four-point lead when Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin called for Millsap to re-enter the game with 10 minutes remaining in the fourth.
That's when Denver made a tactical error.
The Nuggets put small forward Danilo Gallinari on Millsap, who proceeded to dunk, hit a short jumper and score a layup in less than a minute.
Denver then tried throwing a couple other guys at Millsap, including 6-9 Al Harrington and the 6-11 Nene.
Did that work?
No and no.
"It was a mismatch. We tried to expose it," Millsap said. "Normally when we see a mismatch, that's what we do. Our team is very unselfish, and they find the guy with the mismatch."
That's what makes Millsap such an effective player for the Jazz. Sure, at 6-8 he's an undersized power forward.
Heck, Karl admitted before the game that he didn't think Millsap was an NBA prospect when he watched him playing at Louisiana Tech.
"I don't get paid to scout, though, either," Karl quipped.
Karl credited Millsap for his "basketball knack," which knocked the Nuggets off their perch after they'd crushed Utah 117-100 on Dec. 28 in Denver and even beaten Miami a couple days prior to this (mis)matchup.
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