Nuggets pay for Jazz’s big quar­ter

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Christo­pher Dempsey

salt lake city» The Nuggets’ de­meanor and ap­proach was much more where it needed to be Satur­day night, but that didn’t save them from two old foes: a hor­rid quar­ter, and the Utah Jazz.

The Nuggets lost for the fifth con­sec­u­tive time at Vivint Smart Home Arena, where the Jazz turned a big third quar­ter into a 105-98 vic­tory. After­ward there was a much more up­beat tone in the Nuggets’ locker room than on Fri­day night, when they were clob­bered at the Pepsi Cen­ter by Hous­ton.

“We’re not happy that we lost, but we did take a step in the right di­rec­tion, get­ting back to who we need to be mov­ing for­ward,” coach Michael Malone said.

Utah’s big third quar­ter was led by Gor­don Hay­ward, who was a sym­phony of of­fen­sive fire­power that ef­fec­tively put a win out of Den­ver’s reach. He scored in­side and out­side, mak­ing 8-of-11 shots on his way to 21 points. The Jazz, as a re­sult, in­creased its two-point half­time lead to 23 be­fore set­tling into a 19-point lead to start the fourth quar­ter and coast­ing from there. It didn’t help that the Nuggets were tired from play­ing a back-to-back set.

But the Nuggets bat­tled back, shoot­ing 72 per­cent dur­ing the fourth quar­ter and mak­ing their first seven 3-point­ers.

“Guys re­ally showed that we’re not just go­ing to lay down and quit,” said Den­ver for­ward Ken­neth Faried. “Last game we were in the same sit­u­a­tion, they just kind of blew the doors off us and we just laid down. But this game we said, ‘Nah, we’re not hav­ing that.’ ”

The Nuggets chopped Utah’s lead down to five points but got no closer. They lost for the fifth time in six games. Hay­ward led all scor­ers with 32 points. Will Barton and Wil­son Chan­dler each had 20 points to lead the Nuggets.

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