Utah Jazz blow out Denver Nuggets for sixth consecutive win, 121-102
Jazz extend win streak to six by pasting the Nuggets
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — So many highlights, so little bandwidth.
So little Denver defense, so many Utah Jazz points on the EnergySolutions Arena scoreboard.
The Jazz played so well Friday night in extending their winning streak to a season-high six games, it'd almost be easier to point out their flaws during a dominating 121-102 victory over the Nuggets.
To begin with, the Jazz trailed by a whopping two points at the end of the first quarter.
Hmmm. Let's see … ah, they missed 11 free throws. And, yeah, their coach didn't love how the Nuggets ended the third quarter, trimming a 27-point lead down to 18, which Tyrone Corbin called "nerve-wracking."
If the Jazz didn't spend all night tossing and turning about those deficiencies, they had plenty of highlights from this ESPN-televised game to relieve in some sweet dreams.
When it comes to games against their rivals from the other side of the Rockies, this was as good as it gets.
"It was a tremendous, gut-out win for us," Corbin said.
For one thing, Corbin pointed out, the Jazz played a tough, down-to-the-wire late game in Sacramento — a 103-102 victory — on Thursday while the Nuggets waited in Utah.
Not that the high-flying Jazz showed any signs of fatigue.
"It took us a little while to get going," Corbin said. "But I thought once we got going, we did a great job controlling the tempo of the game — smart about when we pushed it, smart about when we get into our half-court sets. I thought we did a tremendous job of passing the ball tonight."
The Jazz finished with 32 assists on 48 baskets, including a season-best nine dimes from point guard Devin Harris.
And that just begins to describe what they did right.
Utah shot 59.3 percent en route to a lead that ballooned to 27 in the third quarter.
Seven players hit double figures in scoring, from Al Jefferson's 23 points to a dozen apiece from C.J. Miles and Derrick Favors.
Gordon Hayward scored 15 to go with his seven rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and two steals. Paul Millsap chipped in 14 points and six boards. Harris ended with 13 points.
And rookie Alec Burks continued his tear with 15 points in just 18-1/2 minutes.
"It was a good team win," Hayward said. "Everybody came in ready to contribute to it. Everyone was productive, both offensively and defensively. We did a great job."
It didn't happen, but ESPN, which was in town to televise this highlight-fest, could have filled its entire Top 10 Plays segment from this rip-roaring Jazz performance.
Among the biggest crowd-pleasing plays:
— A handful of alley-oop dunks, including tosses from Harris to Miles and Favors, a pair of perfectly placed lobs from Earl Watson (yes, he finally played) to Jeremy Evans (yes, he also played) and even an in-air connection from Burks to DeMarre Carroll.
— A second-quarter dunk-a-thon that contributed to the Jazz scoring 64 points in the paint on the night.
— A couple of timely Harris long bombs in a row that stretched Utah's lead and Denver's defense.
— Jefferson pushing up an inside bucket while being pulled down to the ground by a defender — not to mention his pump fake and floater.
— Birthday Boy Hayward (22 years old) frustrating Arron Afflalo and keeping his cool while getting smacked in the head by the upset opponent, who was tossed with a Flagrant 2 penalty.
— Miles' best block shot of the season in which he could've been called for a flagrant foul for what he did to the basketball.
— Burks' off-balance fading drive and another steal and layup.
— Last but not least, Harris' drive and dunk, which, yes, was the 6-foot-2 guard's first slam of the season. He let out a primal scream into the crowd after completing the big D-Will-esque jam, too.
"That may not happen again," Harris said, smiling. "I had to shout it out."
Added Hayward when asked about his favorite highlight: "I'm going to have to say Devin Harris down the lane. I think it was his first dunk all season — kind of surprised a few people. I say that's definitely the best play."
The win improved the Jazz to 26-22 and moved them into a tie for the seventh spot in the Western Conference with Denver and Houston. But Utah holds the important tiebreaker over the Nuggets, who were led by Al Harrington's 20 points.
The Jazz head to Atlanta on Sunday to begin a three-game road trip, which they can only hope includes this many highlights.
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