Nuggets seek fast start as they open homestand against Jazz

Denver trailed after first quarter in every stop on six-game road trip
by Aaron Lopez

Throughout their extended trip through the Eastern time zone, the Nuggets experienced a case of first-quarter jet lag.

In all six games, Denver trailed after the first 12 minutes, with defense and rebounding being the primary areas of concern. While he’s not ready to take drastic measures, Nuggets coach Brian Shaw emphasized the sluggish starts as his team prepared for Friday night’s home game against the Utah Jazz.

“We are still searching for the answer for that,” Shaw said after practice Thursday. “If we can clean that up, we can compete with any team on any given night if we continue to do the things we’re doing in the second, third and fourth quarter.”

The Nuggets rank 29th in the NBA in scoring defense (27.4 points) in the opening quarter and are also next to last in surrendering offensive rebounds.

During 5-on-5 work Thursday, Shaw stopped practice a couple times when one team got second and third opportunities while crashing the glass.

“We give up a lot of second-chance points,” Denver guard Ty Lawson said. “That’s the main part of it. Sometimes the game gets away from us. We have to be able to rebound.”

Despite their early game deficiencies, the Nuggets (13-8) have often figured things out when they fall behind early. A big part of the success can be attributed to the fact that they lead the NBA in field-goal defense at 38.9 percent.

“If we can lock down like that in the fourth quarter, why can ‘t we do that in the first quarter?” Shaw said. “That’s what we’re still searching for.”

Friday's game marks the start of a four-game homestand. Click here for ticket information.


WHEN: 7 p.m. MT
WHERE: Pepsi Center, Denver
TV; RADIO: Altitude; AM-950

DENVER (13-8)

F Wilson Chandler
F Kenneth Faried
C J.J. Hickson
G Randy Foye
G Andre Miller

UTAH JAZZ (5-19)
F Richard Jefferson
F Marvin Williams
C Derrick Favors
G Gordon Hayward
G Trey Burke

Ty Lawson (left hamstring strain) is a game-time decision; Danilo Gallinari (knee) and JaVale McGee (fractured left tibia) are out.
UTAH: None to report.

Denver has won eight out of its last 10 home games against Utah . . . Despite their recent stretch at Pepsi Center, the Jazz have still performed relatively well in Denver in recent years, having gone 11-15 since the 2000-01 season . . . The Nuggets are just 13-16 overall against Utah since 2005-06 . . . The Jazz franchise has had more 40-point performances against the Nuggets than any other team in the NBA, with 18 Utah players scoring at least 40 versus Denver since 1976-77. The next closest would be nine by Houston. Of those 40-point games, 11 of those were done by former Nuggets assistant coach Adrian Dantley . . . The Nuggets went 3-1 against the Jazz in 2009-10, marking their first series win over Utah since the 2003-04 season (3-1) . . . Denver and Utah met in the opening round of the 2010 NBA Playoffs, with the fifth-seeded Jazz knocking off the fourth-seeded
Nuggets (4-2).