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The Roundup—Jazz go cold late, fall to Nuggets on the road
Seemingly in control after a strong first 30 minutes, the wheels came off down the stretch for the Utah Jazz in a 106-100 loss to the Nuggets Thursday night in Denver.
The Jazz led by nine midway through the third period before they went cold, failing to make a shot for nearly eight minutes as the Nuggets used a 27-1 run to take control of the game. Jordan Clarkson rallied the Jazz back to within three points late in the fourth quarter, but All-Star center Nikola Jokic scored four straight points to help Denver hold on.
"It was a long run. We stalled—for a lot of reasons," Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. "We have to have more resolve. We’re a team of guys who make plays for each other. ... During that stretch, we obviously weren’t very good. Jordan gave us a lift and got us going again, but I thought we looked slow.”
Clarkson led all scorers with 37 points—five short of his career high—while Rudy Gobert stuffed the stat sheet with 21 points (on 9-for-10 shooting), 11 rebounds, one steal and three blocks in the loss.
Bojan Bogdanović (18 points) and Georges Niang (10 points) were the only other Jazz players to score in double figures.
The Jazz (32-16) got off to a slow start, turning the ball over seven times in the first eight minutes. They closed the first quarter on a 10-4 run, though, and then made five 3-pointers in the second quarter to take an 11-point lead.
"We just were loose with the ball, making poor reads and, more than anything, lazy with our passes," Snyder said. "I think we got better and showed more precision as the game went."
Utah led 70-61 with four minutes left in the third—and then suddently found themselves trailing 87-71 just eight minutes later.
Jokic finished with 28 points, four rebounds, 10 assists and three steals for the Nuggets (33-15). Will Barton added 18 points, while Torrey Craig (13 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks) and Michael Porter Jr. (12 points, 12 rebounds) each double-doubled in the win.
Donovan Mitchell struggled mightily for the Jazz, scoring four points on 1-for-12 shooting—though he did chip in five rebounds and eight assists. Mitchell, who missed his first nine shots before finally getting a floater to drop at the 4:06 mark of the fourth quarter, was held scoreless through the first three quarters for the first time since October 21, 2017 (his third career NBA game).
Thursday's Best: Jordan Clarkson
Clarkson scored 24 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter, including two straight 3-pointers and then three free throws that pulled Utah within three with just under two minutes left. He shot 13-for-22 from the field, including 7-for-12 from three, and 4-for-5 from the line. Clarkson has now scored at least 20 points six times in 18 games since joining the Jazz on December 26.
Team three counter:pic.twitter.com/ndGOZ7G6un— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) January 31, 2020
Utah was on fire from outside, connecting on 17-of-37 3-pointers. Clarkson (7-for-12), Bogdanović (6-for-10), Niang (2-for-3) and Ingles (2-for-5) each made multiple triples as the Jazz set a new franchise record with at least 10 threes in 20 straight games.
Turnovers plagued the Jazz throughout the night as Denver scored 21 points off of Utah's 16 turnovers. The Nuggets committed only 10 turnovers, which led to 11 Utah points.
Gobert and Mitchell were named NBA All-Stars before the game started. ... Utah's Mike Conley (knee soreness) sat out, while Denver played without Jamal Murray (ankle), Paul Millsap (knee), Gary Harris (personal) and Mason Plumlee (foot). ... Denver outscored Utah 15-7 in second-chance points and 14-8 in transition. ... Mitchell and Joe Ingles tied for the team lead with eight assists each. ... Niang picked up a flagrant foul early in the fourth quarter.
The Jazz will stay on the road to face the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night. Tipoff is set for 8:30pm MT.
Utah's next home game is against the Nuggets on Wednesday at 7:00pm MT.