The Utah Jazz fell hard and picked up their eighth consecutive loss to the Denver Nuggets 100-81 on Monday night.
The Jazz got off to great start by attacking the basket and spreading the floor on offense before the Nuggets could set up their man-to-man defense. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the first quarter play for the Jazz was their decisiveness on offense. Gordon Hayward showed great control in transition, Derek Favors finally showed Jazz fans a “go-to” move with his baseline jumper, and Enes Kanter used muscle in the paint. Utah closed out the first quarter 26-20.
Throughout the second quarter, the Nuggets caught their groove and point guard, Ty Lawson, found success through penetration, causing the Jazz to collapse down low which then opened up the floor for the Nuggets’ jump shooters. The Jazz lost their lead and ended the half trailing by one, with a score of 46-45.
The Jazz fought hard during the third quarter but the Nuggets maintained a lead by slowing down Gordon Hayward. Long time Nuggets’ point guard and former Utah Ute, Andre Miller, brought unparalleled smarts and energy to the floor and picked apart the Jazz defense. The Nuggets remained in control with a two-point lead at the end of the third, 70-68.
By the middle of the fourth quarter the Jazz started playing frantic basketball. We’ve seen it before and it all starts with rushed shots and turnovers down the stretch. If there was a game this season the Jazz should have won, it was this one against the Nuggets.
Guards: The biggest problem with the Jazz point guards tonight was speed. Ty Lawson made the Jazz look like they had glue on their shoes, but the real noticeable problem came when veteran Andre Miller scored 15 points and looked young compared to Jamal Tinsley and John Lucas III. The Jazz didn’t have the speed or shooting power to keep up with the Nuggets on Monday’s loss. Grade: C+
Forwards: Jazz fans can be proud of the way Gordon Hayward played on Monday night. He attacked the rim in the first half and showed excellent hustle on defense. Hayward gave the Jazz a good name but ultimately lacked offensive consistency throughout the second half. Grade: B
Centers: Derek Favors and Enes Kanter showed great improvement in Monday’s loss by attacking the rim and having “go-to” moves when the ball found itself in their hands. Rookie Rudy Gobert still looked timid and offensively was almost non-existent for the Jazz. Grade: B+
Coaches: Coach Ty Corbin and his assistants seem to be a bit too comfortable in games that are highly winnable. The Jazz coaching staff played the expected guys tonight but failed to call timeouts that could have slowed Denver’s momentum in the fourth quarter. Grade: C
Officiating: The referees didn’t impress anyone Monday night in Utah. It seemed each referee had a few accidental breaths into his whistle, the first making itself manifest against Enes Kanter about one minute into the game. Jazz fans would also strongly disagree with a travel called on forward Gordon Hayward during a pivotal point in the fourth quarter. Grade: C
Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets showed confidence in their transition game early one but really stuck it to the Jazz with their guard play. The Jazz had no answers for Ty Lawson or Andre Miller. Nuggets’ center, JJ Hickson, also gave the Jazz something to remember when we “posterized” Jazz forward, Marvin Williams. Grade: A-
Bobby Macey is a social media guru and marketing/public relations specialist by day. By night, he’s a writer for Deseretnews.com covering the Utah Jazz. Follow him on Twitter @Bobmacey