Jamal Murray Shines as Denver Nuggets Lose to Utah Jazz

Nov 23, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) drives to the hoop against Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) in the second quarter at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets could not get it going offensively in 108-83 loss to Utah Jazz

The Denver Nuggets could not get going offensively without Gallinari on Wednesday night. After getting off to a slow start, the Nuggets seemed to come back to life in the second quarter. But the chances of a comeback soon faded in the third, as the Utah lead quickly grew to 20+ points.

The Nuggets quickly got down by 17 points after only about 8 minutes into the game, but they managed to cut the lead down to six at half. The third quarter, which has usually been a premium quarter for the Nuggets, saw them post a -17 and ultimately give the Jazz the game.

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One of the lone bright spots was again Jamal Murray. The Nuggets may have mined a gem with their 7th pick, as he led all Nuggets scorers with 23 points. Just how bad was it? No Nuggets starter reached double-figures, and they shot under 40% form the field.

Let’s break down this game further to see how the Nuggets played against the Jazz tonight:

 

Nov 23, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton (5) takes a shot in the second quarter against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive Takeaways

Multiple air balls early got the Nuggets off to a poor start. Denver starters ended 0-8 from the field and 3-6 from FT for the 1st quarter. The Nuggets seemed to really miss the offensive firepower of Gallinari tonight.

Juancho Hernangomez got the start with Gallinari out, but looked rushed and frazzled early. He displayed good aggressiveness, but needs to limit his mistakes. Juancho did start to put things together in the 4th quarter with the other rookies, seeming more settled in and patient.

Wilson Chandler came in early in the first, as the nuggets couldn’t get anything going offensively. He provided a spark with 11 points in his first 6 minutes, but slowed down greatly after that. Wilson ended with 13 points on 4/11 shooting, with 9 rebounds.

Emmanuel Mudiay couldn’t get anything going against George hill early. He looked better in the second once Jamal Murray was rolling, but still was weak tonight. Mudiay ended with a pitiful 3 points on 1/8 shooting, to go along with 1 assist and 0 rebounds.

Jamaal Murray came in halfway through the first but didn’t do much early. The jazz seemed to focus on stopping him. But he did provide energy off the bench and hit some 3 pointers to help shrink the 1st quarter lead. Then Murray seemed to really come in to his own in the second half, looking like the best player on the court offensively at times for the Nuggets. Even when he was not on the ball, he drew a lot of defensive attention from the Jazz. He provided energy and ball movement which made the Nuggets look more cohesive as a whole. And load up your bow and arrows folks, because his 3 point shooting was dirty tonight, hitting 5/8 from behind-the-arc. Jamal Murray may be emerging as one of the leaders that Denver needs.

Nikola Jokic with a couple nice drop step spin moves early in the second, but overall didn’t do much. He ended with a well-rounded with 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists.

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Faried provided his usual energy while on the floor, crashing the glass as much as possible for the put-back buckets. The Manimal ended with 8 points and 10 rebounds.

Darrell Arthur returned from injury to play in his 3rd game this season. He showed good chemistry with Jokic off the bench, and great defensive IQ. Arthur finished with 8 points, but only 1 rebound.

Nov 23, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) drives to the hoop against Denver Nuggets guard Malik Beasley (25) in the fourth quarter at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The Utah Jazz defeated the Denver Nuggets 108-83. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Takeaways

Faried and Nurkic provide a great size and speed combo down low. They had their hands full tonight with Gobert’s size and Diaw’s craftiness, but they were managing it well early. That changed later as Gobert began to have his way in the paint on his way to 19 points and 13 rebounds.

Denver need’s their guards to work more efficiently on defense. Not harder, more efficiently. They are working hard now and closing out on shooters, but when multiple players close out on 1 shooter, they inevitably leave another player wide open. This was the case on Wednesday night. Denver was giving up too many open threes. They need to learn to work together better to prevent this going forward.

On a good note, Jamal Murray provided great defensive energy to close out the first quarter. After making a 3 pointer, Murray got a steal on Dante Exum, but stepped out of bounds. He also blocked Exum on a buzzer beater attempt to end the 1st.

Overall, the Nuggets show grit on defense, but seemed almost too pumped up and jumpy at times. Denver needs to learn to stay calm and make smarter decisions on defense.

Nov 23, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) dunks the ball in the third quarter against Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic (15) at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The Utah Jazz defeated the Denver Nuggets 108-83. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Utah Jazz Team Grade: A-

This was an incredibly hot start for Utah. The Jazz got out to a blazing quick 14-0 lead after four 3 point plays to start the game. There were two 3 pointers (from Rodney Hood and Gordon Hayward) and a two 3 point plays (from Trey Lyles and Hayward). The Nuggets defense looked energetic, but Utah was hot and could not be stopped.

George Hill was really showing his leadership on the floor. He provides a great basketball ID at the point guard position for Utah. He ended with 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Rodney Hood was electric. He is an impressive shot creator with great finishing skills. If he continues this pace of growth, he is going to be a long time Nuggets (or Jamal Murray) rival on the Jazz. Hood finished with 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 assist.

Boris Diaw also showed his veteran leadership. Great basketball IQ and smooth near the rim. He ended up with 11 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Rudy Gobert’s size and athleticism was hard to match. He was a problem all night for the Denver bigs, throwing down multiple alley oops. He finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds.

The Jazz were taking advantage of open shots on offense early. Utah did show weaknesses off the bench though. They allowed the Nuggets bench to play themselves back in the game by the end of the 1st half. But they got it back together in the 3rd, and stomped the Nuggets tonight. As the Jazz get more organized, they may be looking at a lower playoff seed in the West.

Nov 23, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton (5) passes the ball as he is guarded by Utah Jazz forward Trey Lyles (41), guard Rodney Hood (5) and center Rudy Gobert (27) in the second quarter at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets Team Grade: C+

Generally, the Starters couldn’t get much going early without Gallo. The Nuggets are currently the second best team in defending the 3 pointer, but it didn’t seem like that tonight as they left Utah open throughout the 1st half.

On the bright side, the Nuggets kept turnovers to a minimum early. They even tied the game at 45 with a couple minutes left in the second, but the Jazz continued a hot streak led by Rodney Hood to end the half leading the Nuggets 53-47.

Nov 23, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) reacts from the bench in the second quarter against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The nuggets slowed down again the start the 3rd. The starters really couldn’t get anything going offensively tonight. Starters outscored 17-3 in the 3rd by the Jazz starters. It was the bench who kept Denver in the game tonight, then that faded as well and the lead grew from 6 to 20. The Nuggets scored only 14 in the 3rd quarter as the jazz lead 84-61.

The fourth quarter was backup basketball. Denver’s young assets all got to play together and try to spark a run to get back in the game. Malik Beasley got some playing time, but looked raw. He shows great energy, but needs refinement to his game. Juancho Hernangomez also showed promise, but turned his ankle on the last play of regulation. Hopefully he won’t miss any time, as he did start with Gallinari out.

Overall, this was a mediocre game for the Nuggets. The bench and Jamal Murray showed great promise, but the starters dug a hole the team could not rebound from tonight, getting outscored 36-6 between the 1st and 3rd quarters.

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