You know the old saying, “when it rains, it pours?” Well, when the Denver Nuggets landed in Utah for their game against the Jazz the sun was out and the birds were singing. But by the time the final buzzer sounded, it was pouring rain and the Nuggets had given up a close one, 105-103.
Something had to give on Monday night, when the Nuggets (8-7) brought their recent four-game win streak into Utah to face a Jazz (8-7) team that was undefeated at home. Unfortunately for the Nuggets, they were the first to budge.
It all went wrong for the Nuggets, who seemed to take a step back from the recent strides made during their win streak.
Despite Kenneth Faried’s 21 points and nine rebounds, and Ty Lawson’s 16 points and nine assists, the Nuggets were unable to overcome the Jazz, who were led by Al Jefferson with 28 points and Derrick Favors, who had 19 points off the bench.
“We had the momentum, then when things turned, everything went wrong,” Denver coach George Karl said afterwards.
Gone was the Nuggets’ third quarter scoring outbursts that seemed to overwhelm opponents over the last three games. After a strong first half in which they scored 65 points, the Nuggets appeared sluggish to start the second half and were outscored 30-19 in the third quarter and 51-38 in the second half overall. The Nuggets even led by as many as 16 points during the third quarter, but a 12-0 run by the Jazz seemed to foreshadow the Nuggets eventual fate.
Gone was the impact made by the Nuggets’ newest incarnation of “AI,” Andre Iguodala who, despite claiming that he has only “about 70 percent understanding [of] what (coach George Karl) wants,” had a breakout week during the Nuggets four-game win streak averaging 19.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists. He also went 29-of-56 (.518) from the field, including 9-of-18 from 3-point range.
On Monday night however, AI scored only 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting, and was ejected late in third quarter after an altercation with Utah’s Randy Foye.
Lastly, gone was the Nuggets’ focus and fight that had led the team to their first significant win streak of the season, including one over the league’s best team, the Memphis Grizzlies (10-2). Denver surrendered a 16 point lead, missed 14-of-32 shots from the free throw line and was unable to capitalize on multiple attempts to win the game in the final frantic minute of the fourth quarter.
“The first half, we got a little happy with our performance, then didn’t fight as hard in the second half,” George Karl concluded. The Nuggets arrived in Utah with a four-game win streak and the sun at their backs, but in the end they were the ones left standing out in the rain.