The safe confines of EnergySolutions Arena were supposed to be the elixir that cures some of the Utah Jazz’s ails. For more than three quarters, it looked like that would be the case. Unfortunately, there are four quarters in a basketball game, and the visiting Denver Nuggets simply took control in the end. Denver went on to soundly defeat Utah, 100-81.
After a harrowing four-game road trip that resulted in four losses, the Jazz returned home hoping to take advantage of an outing against another struggling team in Denver. Utah came out with a positive energy, and despite a listless second period, kept things close through the start of the fourth quarter. The Jazz held a late lead until the Nuggets went on a 26-8 run that kept the Jazz winless when the final buzzer sounded.
Five Denver players hit double-figures, led by Ty Lawson’s 17 points. Utah’s Derrick Favors had perhaps his most complete outing of the season with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Gordon Hayward added 22 points, including 18 in the first half.
Point guard play: The news that rookie Trey Burke was cleared for increased basketball activity was the best news of the night for Utah. It may sound like a broken record, but the point guard tandem of John Lucas III and Jamaal Tinsley is simply not cutting it in his absence. Head coach Tyrone Corbin insert Lucas into the starting lineup, hoping it might swing fortunes for the Jazz, but the move made little difference.
The duo combined to go 2-of-9 from the floor and finished with a woeful stat line: a total of four points and five assists in a collective 46 minutes. To add salt to the wound, Denver’s stellar point guard pair of Lawson and Andre Miller joined forces to put 32 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds on the board.
A rusty Burke who will be behind schedule will still be an upgrade — a welcome shot in the arm for a team simply devoid of a point guard presence.
Battle of the boards: While Denver was without JaVale McGee, the frontcourt of J.J. Hickson and Kenneth Faried combined for 22 rebounds, setting the tone for a dominant rebounding night for the Nuggets. They outdid the Jazz 52-35. Moreover, Denver kept Utah off the offensive rebounds, which has been a positive for the Jazz thus far in the season.
Odds and ends:
• While the Jazz’s offense was much improved for much of the game, Utah assisted on just 11 of its 31 field goals — 35.5 percent.
• Guard Randy Foye, Utah’s starting shooting guard last year, scored seven points for Denver.
• Denver’s reserves outscored their counterparts, 42-16.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also writes for Salt City Hoops. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.
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