SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Denver coach George Karl sounded more
concerned than impressed when the Nuggets moved into a tie for the
No. 7 spot in the Western Conference playoff race.
The Nuggets beat the Utah Jazz 109-98 Wednesday night, but it
was not one of the more memorable games the team has had during its
remarkable turnaround under Karl.
"I've got to worry about getting our team back to playing a
little bit better basketball. I think the last two games our
defense has been worrisome to me," Karl said.
The Nuggets were coming off a 123-114 loss at Phoenix two nights
before and were flat for the first three quarters against a
depleted Jazz lineup. Denver finally pulled away in the fourth
quarter when Andre Miller and Marcus Camby got the offense running.
"I think we just came out a little bit sharper than they did.
We stressed how important this game was," said Miller, who had 24
points and nine assists. "We were just trying to get into a
rhythm. We were definitely trying to push the tempo and get up and
down the court."
Camby scored 12 of his 23 points in the final quarter and pulled
down 16 rebounds, and Carmelo Anthony added 23 points for the
With the win, Denver (39-31) tied Memphis for the No. 7 spot in
the Western Conference playoff race.
"It's still early. We've got like 12 ballgames left. We've
still got to worry about Minnesota on our heels," said Camby, who
also had four blocks.
Denver improved to 22-6 under Karl, but the Nuggets needed to
rally after falling behind by four early in the final quarter and
led by more than seven until late in the game. Earl Boykins added
11 points and six assists off the bench.
Mehmet Okur led the Jazz with 23 points and 17 rebounds and Matt
Harpring finished with 16 points, but Utah had nothing left at the
end to slow down Miller and Camby.
"It was close and we turned the ball over a couple times,"
Okur said. "I don't know how many games we've lost in the last
quarter. Maybe 20, maybe more. We got to look forward now."
It's a wonder the Jazz stayed in it as long as they did.
Although Denver's Kenyon Martin missed his second straight game
with a bruised chest, the Nuggets still appeared to have a clear
advantage against the Jazz's 26th starting lineup of the season.
Utah has already lost its top two scorers for the season and was
playing without guards Raja Bell (shin) and Kirk Snyder, who was
benched by coach Jerry Sloan for taunting in front of Houston's
The Jazz were still able to stay in it with reserve center
Curtis Borchardt's career-high 12 points, journeyman Randy
Livingston scoring 10 and Ben Handlogten adding 11 points.
"We looked like we had a chance to maybe win the ballgame, then
we gave them a couple of easy baskets and then we couldn't make
stops," Sloan said. "Same things we've had problems with all year
Utah went up 81-77 on a layup by Borchardt early in the fourth
before Denver finally started running.
Camby tied the game at 83-all on an alley-oop from Anthony, then
Miller made two free throws and a layup during a 10-2 run that put
the Nuggets in control. The Jazz never got closer than three points
the rest of the game.
Denver has won 15 of 17. ... The 5-foot-5 Boykins plucked a
rebound from the 7-foot Okur in the third quarter. ... Former Jazz
guard John Stockton was honored before the game when an 8-foot
bronze statue of him was unveiled south of the arena. Stockton
watched the game from the stands with his family and he received a
standing ovation when he was introduced in the second quarter. A
Utah fan shouted "Come back John!" after the final horn.