Utah Jazz bury Denver Nuggets 121-102 in late-night rout

Published: Friday, March 23 2012 11:17 p.m. MDT

Utah Jazz guard Gordon Hayward (20) looks to get the ball to a teammate after Denver Nuggets forward Corey Brewer (13) knocked it away as the Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets play Friday, March 23, 2012. Jazz win 121-102.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz are making an impressive push to reach the NBA playoffs.

The Jazz continued its impressive late-season climb in the Western Conference standings with a 121-102 rout of the Denver Nuggets on Friday night at EnergySolutions Arena.

For the Jazz (26-22), it was a season-best sixth straight win. The victory also brought Utah dead-even with Denver and Houston for eighth place in the Western Conference playoff race, just a half-game behind Dallas (27-22) with 18 games remaining in the regular season. Utah and Denver are now deadlocked for second place in the Northwest Division.

The Jazz had seven players in double figures, led by Al Jefferson with 23 points. Fellow starters Gordon Hayward (15), Paul Millsap (14), Devin Harris (13) and C.J. Miles (12) also scored in double digits, as did reserves Alec Burks (15) and Derrick Favors (12). Jefferson also grabbed eight rebounds, Favors had seven, Millsap grabbed six more and Hayward — shades of Andrei Kirilenko — had seven boards, seven assists and three blocked shots. Harris also had nine assists.

For Denver, Al Harrington had 20 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. Kenneth Faried had 16 points and eight rebounds, and former University of Utah star Andre Miller contributed 14 points and six assists off the bench.

Arron Afflalo added 14 before being ejected for a flagrant foul when he threw an elbow in Hayward's face midway through the third quarter. Wilson Chandler chipped in with 13 points and JaVale McGee was also in double figures for the Nuggets with 11 points and six rebounds.

Utah closed the first half with a 22-10 run to take a 63-55 halftime lead. The Jazz then opened the second half by staging a 28-9 surge to open up a 27-point lead, 91-64, late in the third period and were never seriously threatened after that.

EMAIL: rhollis@desnews.com

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