The Denver Nuggets started their game against the Utah Jazz, where they escaped last night when they turned the ball over, leading to an easy thump for Donovan Mitchell, who was quickly answered by Monte Morris. Nikola Jokic was called up for a foul on a layup attempt by Rudy Gobert and Gobert went 1-of-2 on the free-throw line. Aaron Gordon came to the edge after a couple of empty possessions for a reverse dunk before Jokic and Mike Conley swapped triples.
Conley hit a float in the paint, but Gordon bullied his way to the rim to get his own draft. The only problem with the early game for Denver was the Jazz’s outside shooting with another triple from Bojan Bogdanovich. Jokic was able to convert a 3-point game, but Gobert went straight to the edge for a layup as he and Jokic swapped buckets early in the game. A mid-range jumper from Mitchell made the score 15-14 with just under eight minutes left of the first quarter before a nuggets’ timeout was called.
When he came out of the timeout, Gordon made his third shot fall into the paint to regain the lead. The two sides exchanged misses before Royce O’Neal tipped a triple from the corner, but Morris quickly knuckled the match at 18. Will Barton went 1-of-2 on the charity strip before a loose ball ended up in the hands of Hassan Whiteside for an easy dunk . Michael Porter Jr. got his first shot of the night to fall from his elbow before he and Bogdanovich swapped buckets again.
Whiteside made his second shot fall before being called for his second foul while guarding Jokic. Jokic went 1-of-2 on the line and the match was a draw to 24 before Mitchell got to the edge of a stunning layup that Gordon must have taken personally with his aggressive response to a layup. A Porter miss was followed by a mark from Mitchell before Porter buried his first 3-point shot last night to give Denver a one-point lead and ask for a timeout from the Jazz.
When he came out of the timeout, Gordon added another bucket after a miss by Jordan Clarkson, but Clarkson quickly matched on the next possession. PJ Dozier missed his first shot from the bench and Conley made him pay with a wide-open triple. The Jazz scored again before Denver turned it around and they would go into the second quarter with a 35-31 lead with Facundo Campazzo blocking Clarkson by the buzzer.
As he came out of the break, Joe Ingles came to the edge for an easy layup, and the Jazz lead began to grow after a Clarkson layup as they had gone on an 11-0 run over the final 2:30 minutes. Austin Rivers got his shot rejected by Gobert, but Gobert immediately returned it as he ran over Dozier at the other end. Jeff Green missed a 3-point wing shot before Clarkson hit his own 3-pointer, forcing Michael Malone to use another timeout.
Campazzo was sent to the line where he struck down a few shots to give Denver their first point of the quarter. The two sides exchanged misses before Gobert tipped in a missed layup, which Dozier matched with his own putback bucket. After 44-36, Green came to the line where he knocked down a couple of freebies. Ingles went to the line for a pair that was answered immediately by Jokic in his first minute back on the floor. Ingles, however, knocked down a 3-point shot and the Nuggets were trailing by nine before a 1-of-2 showing for Jokic on the line brought them within eight.
A Clarkson 3-point bomb put Denver behind by 11 before Morris and Whiteside swapped buckets. Mitchell struck a long two that led to yet another Denver timeout, and Jokic struck a triple out of the timeout as he was the only player to keep Denver in the game at the offensive end. The two sides exchanged misses before Jokic and O’Neal swapped easy layups. Another make of Gordon had Denver within five before Gobert threw down a large alley-oop layup, to which Jokic responded with another 3-point bomb. Jokic brought Denver within two at the free throw line before going to the floor with a lot of pain at the other end after kneeling with Gobert under the basket.
Jokic limped to the locker room and got the entire Nuggets’ fan base to hold his breath while Gobert missed both penalty throws. After a turnover from Denver, Gobert missed two more from the line, and Morris hit a mid-range jumper at the other end. Gobert regained the lead, but Morris hit another hard jumper to equalize the match to 64. Mitchell struck a pair from the strip, and the Jazz led 66-64 at halftime after leading by as many as 11.
When he came out of the half, it was announced that Jokic would sit the rest of the match with a knee contusion. Gordon made his eighth shot fall to level the game for Denver, but Mitchell matched with a quick float on the field. Morris caused a triple to fall to give Denver a 69-68 lead. Denver and Utah swapped buckets with Mitchell and Will Barton and traded triples with a score of 74-73. Conley and Bogdanovich hit a couple of shots before Barton stopped the race to bring Denver within one.
When Morris came out of a timeout, Morris hit a triple in the transition, but JaMychal Green quickly beat Bogdanovich and sent him to the line, where he went 2-of-2. After several minutes without scoring, Mitchell equalized the game to 81 before being quickly matched by Denver. Gordon was called up for his fourth foul, three of which came in the third quarter, and Bogdanovich struck two penalty throws down for the match again at 83.
Barton forced a bounce ball on the defensive end and he was rewarded with a layup at the other end. Barton scored again after a miss by Clarkson, and the Jazz called another timeout to try to get their offensive rolling again. Clarkson scored out of the timeout to bring Utah within two. Barton went 1-of-2 on the line, but Ingles equalized the game to 88 with 1:00 left in the third quarter. A turnover of Barton gave Utah the ball and Clarkson made Denver pay as they left him open at the top of the field. Barton responded back with 5.7 seconds left on the clock to make it 90-91 on his way into the final period.
The two sides swapped misses to start the fourth quarter before Porter buried a big 3-pointer. Conley struck one of his own a couple of possessions later, and the two sides battled early in the season. A miss by Porter was answered by Clarkson on the edge to give Utah a 96-93 lead and ask for a timeout by the Nuggets. Green knocked a mid-range jumper out of the timeout to bring Denver within one, but Gobert got another alley-oop to go down to keep Utah in the lead.
A turnover from Porter ended with a Gobert layup at the rim, and the Nuggets were unable to match that as the Jazz lead began to grow up to 102-95. Denver finally got a shot to fall, but Whiteside matched it right away. Leading by nine, Mitchell came to the edge where he put the scores and was sent to the line where he completed the 3-point game to give Utah a 12-point lead with 4:57 left. After the game, a quarrel took place between JaMychal and Whiteside, resulting in a double technician and both players being expelled.
Denver turned the ball over and the game quickly began to end with Utah leading by 13, though a triple by Morris had the Nuggets within 10. Free throws from each side caused the final few minutes of the game to pull out with Utah leading by 12 with 3:00 left. Down with 13 with 2:24 left, Denver turned the ball over on a poor pass intended for Porter. A Morris miss almost sealed Denver’s fate, but Barton had them within 11 before Conley immediately matched him. Green converted a 3-point game on the line, but Gobert scored quickly to make Utah’s lead 12 again. In the end, Ingles hit a 3-point dagger that Porter matched, but it was too little too late with Utah winning 122-110.
Heads of State
Points: Nikola Jokic – 24
Assist: Jokic – 6
Rebounds: Michael Porter Jr. – 9
Player of the game: Nikola Jokic – 24 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 8-of-9 field goal, 3-of-3 3-point, 5-of-7 free throw