Denver Nuggets Fall in Salt Lake City to Jazz, 97-88


The Denver Nuggets 3-game winning streak was snapped on Friday night as they fell on the road to the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City by a final score of 97-88.

Will Barton led the Denver Nuggets in scoring on Friday night with 16 points off the bench, while point guard Jameer Nelson started in place of the injured Emmanuel Mudiay, adding 15 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists. Gary Harris got the start at shooting guard for the Denver Nuggets, and scored 12 points on 5-11 shooting, while center Joffrey Lauvergne recorded a double-double, scoring 12 points and adding 13 boards.

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Poor shooting and porous defense were the deficiencies that led to the Denver Nuggets defeat at the hands of the Utah Jazz on Friday night. The Nuggets’ two leading scorers, Will Barton and Jameer Nelson, each had a +/- of -1 and -12 respectively, while Gary Harris was -8. The Denver Nuggets shot an unsightly 39 percent from the field against the Jazz, while Utah shot over 46 percent on the night.

This game was close throughout, as the Utah Jazz only held a 53-49 lead over the Denver Nuggets at the half and then a 77-73 lead going into the final period of the contest. Poor shooting at the end of the game led to only 15 fourth quarter points for the Nuggets in Salt Lake City, while the Jazz’s 20 points in the period was just enough to give them a cushion to propel them to a key victory in the Northwest Division.

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The Denver Nuggets did tie the game in the fourth quarter, after two consecutive Jameer Nelson baskets knotted the score at 86 points a piece. With 2:16 left in the game, Trevor Booker hit a key three-point shot for the Utah Jazz, giving them a 5-point lead. The Nuggets were not able to mount a rally following that shot, falling to 11-15 on the season.

For the Jazz, swingman Gordon Hayward had a tremendous showing on Friday, scoring 26 points on 8-17 shooting, while adding 5 rebounds and 4 assists, posting a +19 while on the court. Trevor Booker and Rodney Hood each had 12 points a piece, while point guard Trey Burke chipped in with 13 points in 23 minutes off of the bench.

After playing so well over the last three games, and securing a key road victory against a struggling Minnesota Timberwolves team earlier this week, Friday’s game against the Jazz evidences the inconsistencies of this Denver Nuggets team. They have the potential on any given night to keep a game close and play well enough to win, but the lack of effective shooting and poor defensive schemes doomed them once again. A perfect example is Danilo Galinari; who scored 11 points on only 3-10 shooting from the field.

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With a win, the Denver Nuggets could have catapaulted over the Jazz in the Western Conference playoff standings; but instead, find themselves .5 games back of the 8th and final playoff spot. Despite the loss on Friday, and an 11-15 record, the Denver Nuggets are still in a great position. An 8-game losing streak a couple of weeks ago put a damper on the young season; but in spite of the adversity the Denver Nuggets have faced thus far in the 2015-2016 campaign, are in a good spot to remain competitive in the playoff picture.

The Denver Nuggets will not have to dwell on this loss for long, as they head home to the friendly confines of the Pepsi Center to host the New Orleans Pelicans for a Sunday evening tilt. While this loss is tough to stomach — especially against the Jazz — the Denver Nuggets must focus on their strengths and get back to work in order to shake this one off.

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If their recent play (this game not withstanding) is any indication, they should return to Denver on Sunday in great shape to get a win against a struggling New Orleans team.