DENVER — Sustaining efforts and results throughout a full 48-minute game can be difficult for any team, especially a young squad like the Utah Jazz. A solid first half by Utah was not exactly replicated in the second half.
The Denver Nuggets rode some big spurts over the last two quarters to overcome a 13-point deficit and snatch up a 101-94 victory, giving the Jazz another loss as the season concludes.
Utah has struggled defensively for much of the season, especially over the past several months. This was not the case in the first 24 minutes. The combination of quick hands by the Jazz and errant shooting by Denver resulted in quarters of 18 and 16 points. The 34 first-half points marked a season-low for the Nuggets and Utah enjoyed the 10-point advantage.
Things were dramatically different in the second half. Denver’s defensive involvement and perimeter marksmanship both increased and it played the passing lanes and forced Utah into some tough shooting. Subsequently the Nuggets tallied 30 and 37 points, respectively, in the third and fourth quarters. Utah made a few runs to reclaim the lead, but simply could not outperform Denver’s energetic play.
With the Boston Celtics winning, the Jazz are alone with the league’s fourth-worst record.
Foiled by Foye: With 178 3-pointers, former Utah shooting guard Randy Foye set a Jazz record last season. That was not a fluke. Foye is set to do the same for Denver this year with 183 treys. He made three big triples in the second half and had a great all-around game against his former teammates.
With a battery of injuries that have forced stalwarts like Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, JaVale McGee, Nate Robinson and Wilson Chandler to miss many games, Foye was asked to step up. And step up he has. This was evidenced by his stat line versus Utah. He hit 7 of 13 field goals, including a trio of 3-pointers. He also made all nine of his free throws. Foye finished with 34 points, while adding six assists and four rebounds.
Big outings: There were some great performances by players on both rosters. Gordon Hayward seemed extremely motivated to start with nine of his 23 points coming in the first two minutes of the game. Enes Kanter continued his strong play with yet another double-double of 22 points and 14 rebounds.
For the Nuggets, tireless forward Kenneth Faried was exceptional with 24 points and 21 boards. Shooter Evan Fournier poured it own down the stretch and ended with 23 points off the bench. He connected on an improbable shot in the fourth that helped propel his team to the win.
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- Trey Burke has taken care of the ball all season long. He doled out eight assists in 38 turnover-less minutes Saturday, the third consecutive game without a miscue. In fact, Burke has now played 130 consecutive minutes (dating back to the third quarter against the Golden State Warriors) sans a turnover, while handing out 31 assists during that span.
- Only six players on Denver’s depleted rotation scored.
- Alec Burks encountered foul troubles early on which dampened his return to Colorado. He had just five points, his lowest output since Feb. 1.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also writes for Salt City Hoops (ESPN's Jazz affiliate). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.