Denver Nuggets 120, Utah Jazz 127: Three takeaways

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

The Nuggets couldn’t contain Bojan Bogdanović and it proved costly in a 127-120 loss to the Jazz in Salt Lake City.

Michael Porter Jr. led Denver with 31 points and six rebounds in the defeat. Denver had one of its best scoring nights of the season, dropping 120 points on 31 assists. Yet, the team was undone by poor defending and some costly turnovers. Bogdanović poured in a new career-high 48 points on 69.6 percent, with the forward continuously finding good looks despite different coverages by the visitors.

The Nuggets will now look to quickly turn things around Saturday when they face the Nets just over 24 hours later (8 p.m. MT, ALTITUDE 2).

Here are the takeaways:

Bojan’s night

Bogdanović has had Denver’s number in the past, but he took it to another level Friday night. The 32-year-old dropped a career-high eight threes en route to a new scoring high and missed only three of his 11 takes from downtown.

The Nuggets tried multiple defenders on Bogdanović, but the Jazz continued to give the veteran good looks with their pick and rolls. While some players drive early to ultimately get their three-point shooting good, Bogdanović did the reverse. After hitting on four of his threes in the first half, the veteran focused on attacking the rim and scored 12 in the quarter. He went to the line five times during that stretch. He would then resume the damage from behind the arc in the fourth quarter as he would hit another three in the final 12 minutes of the contest.

Entering Friday’s game, Bogdanović has been shooting 52.6 from behind the arc in the season series. It is an area the Nuggets will need to focus if these two teams meet in the postseason.

Nightmarish turnovers

Another damaging factor on the night was the Nuggets’ 17 turnovers against the Jazz.

After going into the fourth quarter with a one-point lead, things unraveled quickly for the Nuggets. The visitors could only muster 21 points in the final quarter and their seven turnovers during that stretch played a part. The Jazz scored seven points off those giveaways and with the Nuggets struggling to score in the quarter, it was backbreaking for Michael Malone’s team. In the final five minutes, there were several miscommunications and broken plays that sapped the momentum from a late rally from the Nuggets.

Rivers continues scoring uptick

Despite the result, there were some positives for the Nuggets. Nikola Jokić almost had another triple-double, posting 24 points, 13 assists, and nine rebounds. The team also saw another strong scoring performance off the bench from Austin Rivers.

Forty-eight hours after hitting six threes against the Knicks, Rivers showed it wasn’t a fluke with a five-three night against the Jazz. The veteran guard scored 18 points and added another three assists on 6 of 10 shooting. With Monte Morris getting closer to a return, Malone’s rotation is still not finalized. If Rivers can build off his last two performances, it helps his case heading into the postseason.

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