Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

The Roundup—Mitchell scores 35, Jazz take down division-leading Nuggets

by Matt Payne

The game was chippy, physical and mean-spirited.

And the atmosphere was electric.

Playing on ESPN against the division-leading Denver Nuggets, the Utah Jazz put together one of their best all-around games of the season in a 114-108 victory Wednesday night in Salt Lake City.

Led by Donovan Mitchell, who scored a game-high 35 points, Utah—and the raucous home crowd—got fired up following Derrick Favors' first-quarter ejection. That fire propelled the Jazz (27-22) to their ninth win in their last 11 games.

"Obviously, whatever happened, you don't want that," Utah's Joe Ingles said after the game. "We went on a little run afterwards, so it was a benefit to us. Losing Favors is always going to hurt us, but guys stepped up and we were able to overcome it."

With 2:46 to go in the first quarter, Favors got tangled up with Denver's Mason Plumlee, who confronted Favors and said something that set off Utah's big man. Following a flurry of shoving and flailing arms, the two were eventually separated and, after review, ejected from the game.

Ricky Rubio, in his second game back after missing six games with an injured hamstring, returned to the starting lineup and finished with 17 points and six assists in 24 minutes.

Rudy Gobert (15 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three blocks), Joe Ingles (14 points, five rebounds, eight assists) and Jae Crowder (15 points, six rebounds) also scored in double figures in the victory.

Star center Nikola Jokic exploded for 28 points, 21 rebounds, six assists and two steals for the Nuggets (31-15), while Will Barton added 22 points off the bench in the loss.

Wednesday's Best

After a quiet start (only two points in the game's first 15 minutes), Mitchell erupted for 14 points in the second quarter and 19 in the second half. The second-year guard shot 12-for-25 from the field and added six rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks in 38 minutes. Mitchell finished with a game-high net rating of +21, and he has now scored at least 24 points in each of his last 10 games.

Key Stretches

An 8-0 run to start the game got Utah off on the right foot. Ingles opened the scoring with a three, Rubio put in a reverse layup for a three-point play, and Gobert made a layup. Rubio would add a 3-pointer to give the Jazz a 16-8 lead.

Denver fought back to take a brief lead early in the second quarter before the Jazz caught fire from deep. Kyle Korver and Ingles made back-to-back threes, and then Mitchell canned four 3-pointers in a four-minute span to help the Jazz take a seven-point lead into halftime.

Utah extended that lead to 15 midway through the third quarter thanks to—you guessed it!—more 3-pointers, this time from Rubio, Ingles and Mitchell. Gobert also threw down a two-handed slam during that stretch.

The Nuggets cut that margin to four in the fourth quarter but never got closer than that. Mitchell scored six quick points—on a three-point play and another 3-pointer—while Crowder converted a timely four-point play and then banked in another three (while being fouled) from the corner, though he missed the ensuing free throw. The Jazz would hold on from there for the six-point victory.

Significant Stats

19

The Jazz were lights out from deep, shooting 19-for-46 (41.3 percent) from beyond the arc. They set a franchise record with 13 first-half 3-pointers. Mitchell (6-for-10), Ingles (4-for-10), Korver (3-for-6), Crowder (3-for-9) and Rubio (2-for-6) each made multiple threes.

-22

Led by Jokic, the Nuggets outscored the Jazz 54-32 in the paint. Much of that damage, though, was done in the first half as Denver scored 36 of those points in the first two quarters.

28

Utah finished with 28 assists, with Ingles (eight), Mitchell (six) and Rubio (six) leading the way.

Coach's Quote of the Night

"To have three guys with six, six and eight assists speaks a lot to how we were moving the ball. Guys were spacing and ready to shoot the ball."

Jazz head coach Quin Snyder

Notable

The Jazz became the first Northwest Division opponent to beat the Nuggets this season. ... The game featured only two ties and two lead changes. Denver's largest lead was one, while Utah led by as many as 15. ... Danté Exum (ankle), Raul Neto (groin) and Thabo Sefolosha (hamstring) remained out for the Jazz. ... Two former Jazz forwards—Paul Millsap (two points on 1-for-8 shooting) and Trey Lyles (12 points on 6-for-13 shooting) suited up for the Nuggets. ... Denver finished with a 50-40 advantage in rebounds. ... The teams played even (84-84) over the final three quarters. ... Denver shot 47.7 percent from the field, but only 29.6 percent (8-for-27) from 3-point range.

Up Next

The Jazz will stay at home to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night. Tipoff is set for 7:00pm MT.