Mitchell, Korver lead Jazz to 111-104 win over Nuggets
It added up to a big night in a place that’s proven tough for the opposition.
Korver hit six 3-pointers on his way to 22 points as the Jazz showed plenty of energy despite playing on the second night of a back-to-back and with two of their guards out of the lineup. Utah led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter, only to see the lead trimmed to five with 8:41 remaining. Korver helped the Jazz on a 13-0 run to gain some separation and send them to their third straight victory.
“We thrive on moments like this,” Mitchell said. “I think that’s a testament to our character as a team.”
Jamal Murray and Will Barton each had 21 points for Denver. All-Star big man Nikola Jokic dealt with foul trouble but still finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists.
A Nuggets win would’ve vaulted them into first place in the Western Conference after a Golden State loss earlier in the night. But they were done in by their long-range woes, shooting 28 percent from 3-point range. It was Denver’s first loss at the Pepsi Center since Jan. 15.
“I thought our defense was really, really great,” Korver said, “and probably won us the game.”
The Jazz wore their colorful uniforms with some players accessorizing with brightly colored shoes. Joe Ingles went with red sneakers, Mitchell salmon, Derrick Favors red and Royce O’Neale green/yellow.
But it was their play that stood out. Ingles had 15 points and 10 assists, while Favors added 15 points and 11 rebounds.
After a fourth-quarter spurt, the Jazz led 97-79 with 6:17 remaining. Denver mounted one final rally and cut it to three on a 3-pointer by Paul Millsap with 1:14 left, before Mitchell took over to wrap things up.
“Through everything we went through in that game, after everything, I mean, we came back and fought,” Murray said. “That shows how good we are.”
Utah turned up the defensive intensity in the first half, forcing the Nuggets into 10 turnovers and 1-of-13 shooting from 3-point range. That, coupled with the play of Ingles (12 points in the opening half) and Thabo Sefolosha (nine in the second quarter alone) allowed the Jazz to take a 52-37 lead into the locker room. The 37 points were a season-low in a first half for Denver.
“We know they’re a great team,” Mitchell said. “We just tried to find a way to make it difficult for all those guys to get those shots.”
Nuggets: F Trey Lyles missed a fourth straight game with a strained left hamstring. … Denver missed 10 straight 3-pointers before Murray connected in the second quarter. … Denver is 8-2 against the Northwest Division — both losses to Utah. … Barton had 13 rebounds.
Center Rudy Gobert took an accidental elbow to the mouth from teammate Grayson Allen late in the first half. Gobert appeared to have a cut on his lip, but stayed in the game. Moments later, Gobert countered with a ferocious dunk. He trails only Milwaukee forward Giannis Antetokounmpo in dunks this season.
Gobert finished with 16 points and four blocks.
“Rudy Gobert, hell of a defensive player,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.
TOUGH TO COVER
Korver and Mitchell combined for 10 3-pointers, including one at the buzzer by Mitchell to end the third quarter. As a team, Denver had seven.
“We have to be a little bit more disciplined with who we’re guarding and the situation they’re in,” Malone said.
Guard Isaiah Thomas played just 11 minutes and had four points as he works his way back from a hip surgery.
“He’s trying to find that rhythm and get comfortable with the ball in his hands,” Malone said. “The other hand of that is he has to understand how we play and move the ball and get guys involved.”
Jazz: Host Milwaukee on Saturday.
Nuggets: Host New Orleans on Saturday to wrap up a four-game homestand.