Jazz Nuggets Basketball

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, left, drives against Jazz forward Rudy Gay on Wednesday in Denver.

DENVER — Another big night from Nikola Jokic wasn’t enough for another Denver Nuggets win.

The Utah Jazz, playing without their reigning Defensive Player of the Year, left Ball Arena with a 115-109 win Wednesday despite another triple-double for Denver’s star. The Nuggets closed within four points late, but Monte Morris missed a 3 and Bojan Bogdanovic put the game away with a couple of late free throws.

“They always have a great control of the game,” Jokic said of the Jazz. “Whenever it is a tough situation, they always find the right shot, right solution, whatever.”

Jokic finished with 26 points, 21 rebounds and 11 assists, but it wasn’t enough with the Jazz sending double and triple teams his way. The Nuggets failed to take advantage of open shooters, finishing 11 of 36 from 3-point range.

“We’ve got to make some shots to loosen the defense and let him play one-on-one,” acting coach Popeye Jones said. “I didn’t think we did that again tonight.”

The Jazz played without starting center and defensive stalwart Rudy Gobert and his backup, Hassan Whiteside. Udoka Azubuike, with 19 career games to his name, started opposite Jokic.

Bogdanovic led the Jazz with 36 points and 13 rebounds, while Donovan Mitchell added 17 points. Utah had four other players score 10 or more points.

“We can’t worry about who they got. We know how we got to play offense, how we got to play defense,” Jones said after Utah hit 14 3s and scored 58 points in the paint.

“We didn’t play defense the right way. We gave them the paint and the 3.”

Morris and Will Barton III added 20 apiece. It was the first game back for Morris after he missed a few games in the league’s health and safety protocols.

“I felt good,” Morris said. “Just wanted to get this win. This would have been a big win for us, man.”

Aaron Gordon made his first seven shots, including a 3-pointer, and finished with 17 points on 8 of 11 shooting. Beyond the four in double figures, only two other Nuggets scored more than five points.

“I think they are doing a great job,” Jokic said of his supporting cast. “Sometimes you just cannot make shots. I think, especially today, they did a good job. We just didn’t make shots. I think sometimes we were open. We just didn’t make shots.”

JaMychal Green made sure the Nuggets and Jazz would start the second quarter on equal footing after he swatted Mike Conley Jr.’s layup at the buzzer, keeping the score tied at 26.

The Jazz used some hot shooting, starting 9 of 20 from 3, to lead by as many as eight in the second quarter before the Nuggets closed within a point at halftime.

Jokic had a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double by halftime.

“He’s pulling his weight, man. That’s what MVPs do,” Morris said. “We just got to help the MVP and take some weight off his shoulders.”

Utah stretched the lead to 13 late in the third quarter and led by 10 to start the fourth.

The Nuggets will look to get Jokic a little more help when they conclude a quick two-game homestand Friday against Sacramento.

“You feel it for him, 26, 21 and 11 and you lose,” Jones said. “You feel it for him.”

Denver Nuggets drop the ball on both ends in loss to Dallas Mavericks
Facundo Campazzo fuels Denver Nuggets' decisive second-quarter run in win over Houston Rockets
Popeye Jones plays it cool after picking up first win as Denver Nuggets' acting head coach
Load comments