Saturday, December 14, 2013
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Jazz hold on for road win over Nuggets

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[December 14, 2013]  DENVER  The Utah Jazz saw their 16-point lead vanish in a hurry, but their veteran wasn't worried.

Forward Richard Jefferson told his young teammates that they were still going to win despite trailing early in the fourth quarter.

"I remember Rich kind of bringing everyone together and saying, 'They're a good team, they made their run, now it's our turn to make a run,'" guard Gordon Hayward said. "We slowed down and kind of made one of our own."

And they made Jefferson prophetic.

Hayward scored a season-high 30 points and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds, center Derrick Favors had 19 points and the Jazz recovered to beat the Denver Nuggets 103-93 on Friday night.

Jefferson scored 14 points for the Jazz, who were predictably upbeat after stealing a road win.

"You got that right," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "They're hard to get."

Forwards Wilson Chandler and Jordan Hamilton had 17 points apiece for the Nuggets, who had their six-game home winning streak snapped.


It was also Denver's third loss at Pepsi Center this year, matching its total from all of last season.

The loss might have bigger repercussions for Denver, which has started slow a few times lately. Coach Brian Shaw wasn't happy with Utah's 33-point first quarter, which came a week after Boston dropped 39 on his team to start a game.

"I don't know if I have to shake it up or what I have to do with that starting lineup. The chemistry for whatever reason is not there," Shaw said. "It's putting too much pressure on our bench night after night. Our starters were out there allowing them to be comfortable and swing the ball around."

The starters  and the rest of the team  let Hayward go off. They chased him off the perimeter only to see him drive to the basket for layups and draw contact.

"I finally knocked down some shots and finished around the rim," Hayward said. "It was a good feeling. Just taking what the defense was giving me."

Despite his success, the Nuggets appeared to take control when they went on a 26-8 run to end the third quarter and wipe out a double-digit Utah lead.

Denver tried to pull away after taking a four-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but Utah responded. Hayward and Jefferson had three-point plays, and Favors' putback gave the Jazz a 94-89 lead.

Two free throws by guard Andre Miller cut it to 96-93, but Favors' three-point play made it a six-point game and the Jazz closed it out.

"We had a little lapse there with the end of the third quarter. We have to get that straightened out a little," Corbin said. "But I thought the group came in at the end and really fought and executed and communicated well on the defensive end and we were able to get some timely baskets and some timely stops."



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The biggest defensive victory was holding Denver's starting backcourt scoreless. Nuggets guard Ty Lawson came into the game leading the team in scoring at 19.3 points per game, but he missed six shots from the field while former Jazz guard Randy Foye was 0-for-3 from the floor.

"We did a good job of not letting (Lawson) get all the way to the rim," Utah guard Trey Burke said. "He's so quick, so good at getting to the rim I tried to force him into the big. With Foye, he's a great shooter, so we tried to close out really hard on him and make him put the ball on the ground."

Even with the punchless backcourt, the Nuggets rallied after Jefferson hit a 3-pointer and a running jumper before feeding Favors for a dunk to Utah a 65-49 with 3:20 gone in the third quarter.

Denver stormed back in the next six minutes. Hamilton had a trailing 3-pointer, forward Darrell Arthur a dunk and then Hamilton gave the Nuggets a 70-69 lead with a fall-away, floating jumper.

It was the Nuggets' first lead since 4-3.

Denver led 75-73 heading into the fourth after Hamilton's three-point play with 1.6 seconds left in the third.

"We kept our poise, we stayed together," forward Marvin Williams said.

The Jazz started the game by hitting their first four 3-pointers and six of their first shots overall. They built an early 10-point lead but saw the Nuggets cut it to one midway through the second quarter.

"They came out and hit us early," Miller said. "Four or five 3-pointers to start the game. It was just an uphill battle the rest of the game."

Hayward helped Utah get some separation late in the quarter. He hit four free throws, sank a 20-footer and fed Favors for a dunk as the Jazz went on a 14-6 run to end the half with a 53-44 lead.


NOTES: Nuggets G Ty Lawson returned to the lineup after missing the last week with a strained left hamstring. Lawson, the team's leading scorer at 19.3 points a game, missed the last two games of Denver's six-game Eastern Conference road trip. ... Entering Friday, the Jazz have gone 4-6 since starting the season 1-13. ... Before the game, the Nuggets had a moment to acknowledge the people impacted by the shooting at Arapahoe High School in nearby Littleton. ... The Jazz came into Friday's game ranked first in the NBA in 3-point shooting in December at 45.5 percent (40-for-88). ... Denver's 75 points in Monday's 75-74 victory over the Washington Wizards were the fewest in a win since beating Dallas 75-71 on April 6, 2007.

[ 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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