by Daniel Olsen | Prior to the game I gave the Jazz “Ten Commandments” for success against the Nuggets. You can read that preview here. It’s time to see how obedient the Jazz were.
1. Thou shalt have no other stars before Donovan Mitchell: The Jazz obeyed this one. The offense often ran through Donovan Mitchell and he was cooking. He scored an impressive 51 points on an efficient 15-27 shooting from the field. The Jazz know who the past, present and future of their game is: it’s Spida Mitchell.
2. Thou shalt not make any grave turnovers: The Jazz were good here but the Nuggets were better. The Jazz stayed within the 12 turnover limit with just 10, but the Nuggets protected the ball really well this game with just six turnovers. I give the Jazz an A- for their effort in protecting the basketball.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the two-time DPOY in vain: Rudy Gobert played well on defense, but the other Jazz players got beat too often. With Gobert guarding outside shots by Jokic, that made for plenty of easy lay-ups by the Nuggets. While Gobert had another double-double, he was far from the absolute monster status he attained in game three. He finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Although he and the rest of the Jazz had zero blocks for the game, he was at least altering shots in the paint.
4. Remember the Game 4 to keep it holy: The Jazz knew their math. They knew Denver would come ready to fight but with this win, the Jazz basically have a 95% chance to advance to the second round with their 3-1 lead. The Jazz still need to play hard on Tuesday but their chance of advancing to the second round just got a whole lot better.
5. Honor the Division Champs that thy days may be long upon the earth: As stated above, the Jazz respected game four, so they also respected their opponent. Utah played high quality basketball and still won by only two points. Jamal Murray came to ball and scored 50 of his own. The Jazz played with just enough fight to win.
6. Thou shalt kill the Nuggets on the glass: The Jazz get a B here. The Nuggets finished with 40 rebounds compared to just 37 from the Jazz. The Jazz led the defensive boards 31 to 23, but lost the offensive board battle 17 to 6. They won because they made shots but not necessarily because of their rebounding. They will need to be better to have a long playoff run.
7. Thou shalt steal: The Jazz and Nuggets both protected the ball well so there weren’t many steals to go around. Both teams had just two steals apiece. It was a B effort but the Jazz did play good defense. They were a little conservative with steals this game since they didn’t want to mis-time a steal and allow an easy basket.
8. Thou shalt not commit fouls: The Jazz were smart on their defense and only committed 19 fouls compared to 24 from the Nuggets. It was concerning that Rudy Gobert and Royce O’Neale were in foul trouble with five each but they were able to stay in the game. Rudy will need to watch that in order for the Jazz to clinch game five. He should remember that his fouling out cost the Jazz game five two years ago against the Thunder.
9. Thou shalt not bear false excuses: The Jazz didn’t seem to be complaining on the court about bad calls. On the flip side, the Nuggets were and it may have cost them as it’s hard to get back on defense when complaining to the refs. Give the Jazz credit for going to work!
10. Thou shalt not covet the Nuggets: While the Jazz respect the talent of the Nuggets, they are confident in their own. They have two bona fide bubble stars in Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Mike Conley also got in on the action with 26 points and Jordan Clarkson was brilliant off the bench with 24 to finish the game. You could say those 24 points were a nice reminder of his former Lakers teammate, Kobe Bryant, who would have turned 42 today.
Look for the Jazz to come ready to play on Tuesday at 4:30 PM MST when they look to close out the series versus Denver. The game will be broadcast on TNT.
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