Nuggets pay for Jazz’s big quarter
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.