The Utah Jazz looked to be on their way to a victory over a Northwest Division rival, but a late rally ended those dreams.
Gordon Hayward dropped 12 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to match the Denver Nuggets’ 37-point outburst in the frame, and Utah fell 101-94.
“We’ve just got to stay with it,” said Utah guard Trey Burke. “I feel we really had an opportunity to win this game. You can’t give a good team like that to get as many second opportunities as they did in the second half.”
Gordon sparked a strong first half for the Jazz with 11 first-quarter points, including a slick drive and finish through contact. His big first had Utah ahead 23-18 after one.
Center Enes Kanter carried the flag in the second, netting 12 of his 22 points on the night. That and a solid defensive effort allowed the Jazz to carry a 44-34 advantage into the break.
While the first half belonged to Utah, the second went decidedly the other direction. The Jazz went cold, shooting just 35.3 percent in the third. Meanwhile Denver’s Kenneth Faried caught fire, recording 13 points to cut Utah’s led to one going into the fourth quarter.
No. 20 did what he could to end the Nuggets’ rally, notching 12 points while playing all 12 minutes in the fourth. Try as he might, his efforts just weren’t enough.
Denver splashed six threes in the final frame and outscored the Jazz 37-29 to take the victory. As Kanter said afterward, that was just too much for Utah to match.
“I think in the first three quarters we played pretty hard, but they made six 3-pointers in four minutes,” Kanter said. “There can’t be any excuses.”