Final

Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 3)

Series starts 12/28

Game 1: Wednesday, December 28th
Jazz100Final
Nuggets117
Game 2: Sunday, January 15th
Jazz106Final
Nuggets96
Game 3: Friday, March 23rd
Nuggets102Final
Jazz121

Nuggets 102

(26-22, 11-10 away)

Jazz 121

(26-22, 19-6 home)

Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

10:30 PM ET, March 23, 2012

EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT

1 2 3 4 T
DEN 32 23 21 26102
UTAH 30 33 31 27121

Top Performers

Denver: A. Harrington 20 Pts, 10 Reb

Utah: A. Jefferson 23 Pts, 8 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Blk

Al Jefferson, Gordon Hayward lead Jazz as Utah continues winning streak

Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY -- Returning to the NBA playoffs is starting to become a more realistic goal for the Utah Jazz as they pile up one win after another.

Al Jefferson had 23 points and eight rebounds, Gordon Hayward chipped in 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, and the Jazz beat the Denver Nuggets 121-102 on Friday night.

All five starters reached double figures as the Jazz (26-22) notched their sixth straight win. Paul Millsap had 14 points, and C.J. Miles scored 12. Devin Harris added 13 points and nine assists for Utah.

Utah vaulted into seventh place in the Western Conference standings. The Jazz are just a half-game behind the Memphis Grizzlies, the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Clippers for fourth place.

Alec Burks led a strong bench contribution with 15 points. Derrick Favors chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds.

It represented a strong all-around effort for the Jazz, who were coming off a dramatic road victory over the Sacramento Kings a night earlier.

"I just thought we played great defense," Jefferson said. "We rebounded, and we got out and ran. Guys were hitting shots. We played inside-out basketball. The most important thing was the defense."

Al Harrington scored 20 points off the bench for Denver (26-22), while Arron Afflalo added 14 points before a third-quarter ejection. Kenneth Faried added 16 points, Andre Miller chipped in 14 and Wilson Chandler had 13 for the Nuggets.

The Jazz had their way on offense, outmuscling the Nuggets around the basket. Utah had 64 points in the paint and outrebounded the Nuggets 34-29. The Jazz also shot a blistering 59 percent from the field and 47 percent from 3-point range.

"I just don't think our defensive dimension had any integrity to it," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "We played well offensively. I thought we were going to have a good offensive game. We just never made enough stops or gave our defense any help with some defensive possessions."

Dominating on both ends of the court helped the Jazz break open a close game early in the third quarter. Millsap drained two consecutive baskets to touch off a 22-3 run that gave the Jazz a 91-64 lead with 2:36 left in the third. He also capped the decisive spurt with a layup.

Utah completely stifled the Nuggets defensively during the run. Denver missed eight straight shots, with Miles getting two blocks. The Nuggets melted down mentally in that stretch, and lost starting shooting guard Afflalo to an ejection after he threw an elbow into Hayward's face and was called for a flagrant foul.

"It was a bad play on my part," said Afflalo, who faces a one-game suspension for his actions. "I just kind of got frustrated with the game a little bit, and tried to battle a few possessions here and there."

Both teams did a good job of getting to the rim early in the first quarter. Four of the first five baskets in the game were dunks. By the end of the quarter, the Jazz had scored 16 points in the paint while the Nuggets tallied 14.

They continued to trade baskets well into the second quarter. Denver appeared to finally gain the upper hand with a 10-3 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Harrington, for a 48-43 lead. The Jazz ripped off 10 straight points and took a 53-48 lead on a floater from Jefferson with 3:41 left before halftime.

It was part of a larger 20-4 run that gave the Jazz a 63-52 lead with less than a minute remaining. Harris capped the run with a pair of 3-pointers that helped Utah go into the locker room shooting 62 percent through the first two quarters.

Once Utah got out front, the Jazz did not let up.

"That's the best part about tonight -- we didn't let them stick around," Hayward said. "We came out in the second half and just kind of took it at them."

Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin praised his team for showing mental toughness and playing unselfishly for 48 minutes. Corbin pointed to the team's 32 assists on 48 baskets as evidence that his players were playing the right way.

"You want to attack the basket with these guys," Corbin said. "They want you to get into a jump shooting contest with them, and that's not who we are."

Game notes


Josh Howard underwent surgery on his left knee and will spend one week on crutches before being re-evaluated. Howard averaged 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds for Utah before being sidelined. ... Harris tied his season high with nine assists, and Hayward tied his career high with three blocks.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
DEN
UTAH
Points 102 121
FGM-FGA 36-78 (.462) 48-81 (.593)
3PM-3PA 6-18 (.333) 7-15 (.467)
FTM-FTA 24-32 (.750) 18-29 (.621)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 16-41 11-38
Assists 22 32
Turnovers 19 14
Steals 8 10
Blocks 5 8
Fast Break Points 13 21
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 25 (1/2) 22 (1/0)
Largest Lead 5 27

Top Performers

Denver
Utah
Al Harrington Harrington
Points: 20
Reb: 10
Ast: 0
Stl: 0
Blk: 0
Al Jefferson Jefferson
Points: 23
Reb: 8
Ast: 3
Stl: 0
Blk: 1