Utah Rides Big Fourth Quarter to Down Nuggets in Season Opener

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider

NBA games are long, and the Utah Jazz are as difficult to beat at home as any team in the league. The Jazz showed why in overcoming a 15-point deficit and pulling away to win 106-96 at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Wednesday night.

The Jazz used a big second half to get the job done. They outscored the Nuggets 20-3 to start the fourth quarter and the visitors never recovered. It was the first time the Nuggets have dropped their season opener in four years, but it was the sixth straight loss to the Jazz in Utah.

Things started off well. The Nuggets got their high-octane offense off and running midway through the first quarter, and Will Barton was at the center of the scoring storm. He hit his first seven shots, three of them from the 3-point line, and had 21 points in the first half. Both he and Gary Harris spearheaded a Nuggets team that scored 58 points in the first 24 minutes and shot 51.2 percent from the field, including nine 3-pointers, to get it done.

But about halfway through the third quarter things started to change.

Utah was down double-digits, but was never completely out of the game. And then they started making headway with stifling defense and hot shooting from Joe Johnson and former CU star Alec Burks. The Jazz closed the third on a 9-2 run to close their deficit to five. And then they outscored the Nuggets 28-13 in the fourth to get the victory. Turnovers were a huge part of the story. The Nuggets committed 22 and Utah turned those into 31 points.

Barton led the Nuggets with 23 points. Paul Millsap had 19 points and six rebounds. Utah put six players in double figures led by Rudy Gobert’s 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.