He was a really good player, Josh was my first recruit. —Jazz coach Quin Snyder on Nuggets president Josh Kroenke
DENVER — Usually pregame interviews are about the usual stuff, what the team must do to play better defensively, how they can play better on the road or what the rotations will be that night.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder brightened up when a Denver reporter asked him about Snyder coaching Nuggets team president Josh Kroenke at the University of Missouri nearly two decades ago.
“He was a really good player, Josh was my first recruit,” Snyder said. “I have a special relationship with Josh and we don’t get a chance to talk too frequently. But invariably whether it’s here or in the summertime we have a chance to reminisce about a few things.”
Snyder said Kroenke was a winning player, which is what he is trying to do in building the Nuggets.
“Josh was on some good teams. You could count on Josh to do what he could do to help you win a game. That’s probably the best compliment you can give a player and that's how he’s running the team, to win,” Snyder continued. “He made coaching rewarding, he made it fun. When you get to coach players that are selfless and play hard, you like to come to work every day. He gave me my start and I was lucky.”
DIVISION GAME: Denver coach Mike Malone talked before the game about the importance of Friday’s game in case the teams end up tied in the standings. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head matchup and if the teams are tied, then it goes to division record.
“It’s always very important,” Malone said. “I think one of your primary goals is winning your division. We have a very talented and deep division. I think it is the most talented and competitive division in the entire NBA.”
With the victory, the Nuggets tied the season series at 2-2 increased its lead over Utah to 5.5 games. They also improved their division record to 4-6, while Utah fell to 4-7.
STAY AWAY: Malone also talked about how he worries about his players' health with all the sickness going around this time of year. One of his players, Will Barton, played limited minutes recently because of the flu.
“Seriously, we do,” he said. “Everybody’s got hand sanitizer . . . I’m not shaking anybody’s hand right now — stay away from me. You do anything you can to control it. It’s important because it can wipe a team out."
JAZZ NOTES: Jonas Jerebko, who started against the Nuggets on Dec. 26, didn’t get in Friday’s game as the Jazz went with a smaller lineup with Thabo Sefolosha getting the start . . . Next up for Utah is the Miami Heat Sunday afternoon (1:30 p.m. MT) in Florida. Usually the team flies out directly after the game, but they won’t play out until late Saturday morning and arrive in Miami late afternoon . . . After Miami, the Jazz play at Washington Wednesday and Charlotte Friday . . . Utah came into the game ranked No. 3 in the league in free throw percentage at 80.8 percent, but only had six free throws all game, making three of them.