In dramatic fashion, the Utah Jazz battled back against an offensively potent Denver Nuggets squad to earn their sixth straight home victory. The Jazz made many big plays down the stretch en route to the nail-biting 105-103 win over their division rivals.
The first half belonged to the Denver Nuggets, as they executed extremely well. Propelled by a steady diet of dunks, leak-out fast breaks and solid perimeter marksmanship, the visiting team was shooting a stellar 75 percent at the break. It appeared that Utah was headed toward its first loss at EnergySolutions Arena this season.
The Jazz had other ideas, however. Riding the wave of a dynamic 30-19 third quarter, Utah knotted things up going into the fourth. Led by the heroics of Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors, and numerous others, the Jazz made the necessary plays they needed to eke out the victory.
Big Al Does It: Jefferson’s sparkling play in the second half was a big catalyst in the change in momentum. The Jazz center was aggressive and effective, taking it right at Denver counterparts Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee. He was dialed in from outside, which helped free up his post-up game and subsequently got him to the free-throw line. Jefferson shot 8 of 10 from the charity stripe. Only once last season was he able to garner 10 or more free-throw attempts.
All in all, Big Al shot 10 of 15 from the floor, closing things out with a game-high 28 points in just 33 minutes.
Running Reserves: Denver came into the outing sporting one of the most impactful bench units in the NBA. And while the Nuggets’ bench corps had a fine collective performance, it was the Jazz reserves who had the final say.
Favors led the way with his usual stout defense. He also was able to make some smooth plays on offense. He tallied 19 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots. Following recent occurrences, the third-year pro played the entire fourth quarter (while starter Paul Millsap sat). His free-throw shooting was huge.
While the rest of the Jazz reserves had more pedestrian stat lines, they each added to the win. DeMarre Carroll, Earl Watson, Enes Kanter, and Gordon Hayward all were energetic and fearless on defense. Each contributed to some crucial stops.
This and That:
- After averaging a paltry 1.2 points per game through his first 12 outings, Utah point guard Jamaal Tinsley is averaging 15.5 points and 6.5 assists in the past two games. During that time, he's 11 of 17 from the floor (64.7 percent) and 7 of 12 from 3-point land (58.3 percent).
- Denver had eight players who scored seven or more points.
- All 10 Jazz players who appeared in the game played between 13 and 33 minutes.
- The Nuggets missed five consecutive free throws in the fourth quarter.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.
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