by Alma Bean
Feature Image: Photo by Rick Bowmer of AP Photo.
The Utah Jazz (36-44) takes on the Denver Nuggets (52-28) in their final home game of the season and final home game in Vivint Arena.
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
Before the start of the game, Lauri Markkanen addressed the crowd thanking them for their support all season long. Markkanen asked for the fans to cheer them on one more time while looking forward to next season. After the arena filled with cheers, everyone was ready for the game.
Somehow, before a single second came of the game clock, two different calls had been made. Nikola Jokic (6/10/10) was called for a loose ball foul on the tip-off. Immediately after Ochai Agbaji (28/3/3) committed an inbound turnover all before a single second has come off the clock. With Denver having their normal starting five for this matchup, it looked as if Denver was going to run away with the game. By the first timeout, Utah had an unprecedented 21-7 lead over Denver. Having an unexpected deficit seemed to put a spark into former Jazzman Jeff Green (3/1/1) as he tried to put Micah Potter (10/10/1) on a posterizing dunk but resulted in an offensive foul towards Green. With Denver shooting an atrocious 6/21 (28.7%) from the field, Utah finished the quarter with a 32-19 lead.
Second quarter looked like Utah would continue the beatdown stretching their lead to 38-19. Denver then woke up and began making any shot they took cutting the lead down to 38-30 by the first timeout. Going from 1/12 (8.3%) from the perimeter in the first quarter to 6/13 (46.2%) in the second quarter made a big difference for Denver. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (21 points and 3 assists) accounted for 2/3 (66.7%) of the perimeter shots for Denver in the quarter propelling the team to a 36-point quarter. Utah shot fairly well from the perimeter in the second quarter going 4/8 (50%) but it was their inability to score in the paint that was their Achilles heel. Utah shot a forgettable 3/14 (21.4%) within the perimeter with Utah’s only positive shooter for the quarter being Luka Samanic (23/8/1), who went 2/3 (66.7%) for the quarter. Denver was able to outscore Utah by 10 points in the second quarter, giving Utah the slim 58-55 lead going into the half.
Ain’t No Valley Low Enough
In the third quarter, Denver was able to obtain their first lead of the game after a corner three from Michael Porter Jr. (15/4/2) to put Denver up 61-58. This was due to the ability to continue to make shots at will just like the previous quarter. Denver shot 7/11 (63.6%) within the perimeter and 8/14 (57.1%) outside the perimeter. Caldwell-Pope shot 3/3 (100%) putting Denver on his back along with Jamal Murray (20/4/5), who accounted for nine points in the quarter. Having the unstoppable fire power from Denver, they went into the final quarter with a 95-89 lead.
Denver looked to have grasped the lead going into the fourth quarter but the court vision of Kris Dunn (19/8/14) snatched that lead right back. Though Dunn only contributed one point from the free throw line, his ability to find Agbaji, Simone Fontecchio (15/6/4), and Potter made up for it. Agbaji leading the drive with his offense, Utah was able to regain the lead with some free throws from Juan Toscano-Anderson (7/6/5). Denver tried to fight back with the like of Christian Braun (14/6/1) and Peyton Watson (6/3/4), but their efforts were unsuccessful. With Agbaji, Potter and Samanic all hitting career or season highs in points led to Utah getting their final home win of the season 118-114. This win will also mark the final win in Vivint Arena as the arena will be the Delta Center starting July 1, 2023.
Utah will finish their season on the tail end of a back-to-back tomorrow against the Los Angeles Lakers on the road in Utah’s only national televised game on ESPN.