By: Kimya Oliver
To begin the first quarter, each team looked solid on both ends of the court. The Jazz ended the first quarter going on a 7-0 run with the score 35-31. The Jazz kept that offensive momentum, going on another 7-0 run to go up 42-31 with ten minutes left in the first half.
After trailing by 11 points, the Nuggets managed to cut the deficit to two points by the end of the first half (66-64).
In the third quarter, Aaron Gordon took over. Defensively, the Jazz struggled to stop him. Each team played solid defense and offense and ended the third quarter with Jazz leading by one point (91-90).
Without Jokic down in the paint, Utah took advantage and drove to the rim for the remainder of the game. The offensive momentum shifted from the Nuggets to the Jazz. With less than five minutes left to play, the Jazz took a 12 point lead 109-97.
Seven of ten players that played tonight ended in double figures. Rudy Gobert managed to get a double-double once again with 23 points and 16 rebounds (13 of them being defensive rebounds). Donovan Mitchell ended with 22 points while Jordan Clarkson had 19 points, coming off the bench.
Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 24 points, despite not playing the second half. Will Barton had 21 points while Aaron Gordan ended with 20 points.
Keys to Success
One key component for Utah to win is for Clarkson to continue to play at a high level. Last season, he won the Sixth Man of the Year award. He has now scored over 8,000 points in the NBA after tonight’s game.
Another key for the Jazz to be successful is to improve their defense on the perimeter. Denver isn’t the top three in three-point percentage, but the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, and Chicago Bulls all shoot over 40 percent and will make them suffer from the outside if they don’t close out.
Jokic collided with Gobert and bumped knee to knee, which caused him to not play the second half. He suffered a right knee contusion.
Rudy Gay is still not hitting the hardwood and his return is still in the air. He will hopefully return in a couple weeks.
The Jazz are within the top five contenders to win the Western Conference Finals, behind the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors and the Phoenix Suns.
What seed will the Utah Jazz end up being when the season is over? Will they end up with the best record in the NBA once again? Only time will tell.
Featured image courtesy NBA.com