SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz got eaten up by the "Manimal" and the rest of the Denver Nuggets losing 113-96 yesterday at EnergySolutions Arena. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak and put the Jazz one-half game behind the L.A. Lakers in the fight for the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff run.
One thing is for certain, Kenneth Faried, perhaps known better as the "Manimal," created problems early on for the Jazz when he scored nine quick points in the first quarter, most of which came in the paint near the hoop. Faried played his college ball at Morehead State University and led the Eagles deeper than expected to surprise the nation in the 2010-2011 NCAA March Madness tournament.
Faried has averaged 11.1 points per game throughout his NBA career and 11.7 points per game throughout the 2012-2013 season. Against the Jazz he has a career average of 18 points per game and finished with 19 points Wednesday night. The only Denver player to outscore him in Utah on Wednesday was Danilo Gallinari, who hit some big shots in the second half and ended the game as the Nuggets' leading scorer with 21 points.
Faried told reporters that the rivalry between Utah and Denver fuels him. He likes playing against Utah's post players, especially Al Jefferson because "it's always a challenge." He commented specifically on playing against Big Al and said, "He know how to score. He's a vet. We talked on the court and he said, 'Hey you're playing good,' and I'm like, 'not as good as you.' I mean, he know how to score the ball, he's just amazing!'"
Faried showed ball fans watching the game that Big Al Jefferson wasn't the only amazing player on the court. Not only did Faried contribute the game offensively, but he had an acrobatic block on a shot attempt from Gordon Hayward that killed any hope of the Jazz extending their lead in the first quarter.
Faried continued to amaze the Utah crowd when he caught an alley-oop pass that teammate and former Utah Ute, Andre Miller threw from half court. Faried put together a nice game and has become well-known among NBA fans as the "Manimal," but his fans should know that his locker room behavior is anything but "manimalistic."
As Faried spoke to reporters, he was lathering himself with lotion he took from a very neat and organized travel bag full of hygiene products. He even shared his lotion with teammates. Now what animal would do that? I guess he acts on his "manimalistic" instincts on the court but appreciates a nice smooth, soft coat of skin in his down time.
The Nuggets appreciated the help of their starting power forward in the win against the Jazz and maintain their spot as the third seed, only behind the Spurs and the Thunder, in the Western Conference standings.
Bobby Macey is a social media guru and public relations specialist who works for Ok.com — your family's media guide by day and writes for DeseretNews.com covering the Utah Jazz by night. He blogs at Jazznation.net and tweets from @utjazznation.