Jazz vs. Nuggets preview: Utah coming to town on the second of a back-to-back - look out!

Ty Lawson defending Jamaal Tinsley in Denver's recent loss to the Jazz. - Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

The Jazz come to town after a late night in Phoenix against the Suns in which they came out on top 87-80. Can the Nuggets put the pedal down and show composure, professionalism, and focus against their division rival?

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2012/2013 NBA Regular Season: Game 35
Utah Jazz (2011 - Pres)

vs
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17-17 (7-13 on the road)
Series 1-1
18-16 (10-2 at home)
January 5, 2013 - 7:00 PM (MT)
Pepsi Center - Denver, Colorado
TV Altitude / 950 AM / 104.3 FM The Fan
Probable Starters
Jamaal Tinsley PG Ty Lawson
Randy Foye SG Andre Iguodala
Marvin Williams SF Danilo Gallinari
Paul Millsap PF Kenneth Faried
Al Jefferson C Kosta Koufos
Notes
SLC Dunk Blogs Denver Stiffs
Enes Kanter (doubtful), Mo Williams (out) Injuries Wilson Chandler, Julyan Stone (out)
The Jazz are on the second of a back-to-back. Stat K2 has three games of 16 pts in the last 7 games.

Let's take a look at some quotes from Lawson and Iguodala after Denver's loss to the Timberwolves on Jan. 3rd.

"It's kind of deflating, man," Lawson told me. "We've got to pay attention to detail. We go through all this (preparation), pregame, shootaround. Before the game we have all this stuff written on the board, and no one's really reading it. Not on the same page. And at the end of the game, that's what happens. If we're supposed to trap, and we don't trap, they get easy buckets." (Denver Post, Benjamin Hochman)

And some quotes the day after the loss at Nuggets practice from Lawson and Karl:

No matter what you thought about Lawson and Iguodala talking with the media about some of team's issues - the important thing to note is how the players who talked will respond. George Karl has had no issues with talking with the media about wanting to find leadership on this team (take Christopher Dempsey's piece from Dec. 31st). About wanting his players to hold each other accountable and not having the coaches be the ones who are always harping on people.

That reminds me about the story of Kevin Garnett's arrival in Boston; one told on sports radio by Scott Hastings. The Celtics were going through a normal practice and during an offensive drill Paul Pierce wasn't running back after the drill. Garnett barked at Pierce, a nine year NBA veteran at the time and entering his 10th season, to run back as KG was sprinting back after every drill. KG cared enough about the game that he was willing to get Pierce on the same page. The Celtics went on to win a title that same season (2007-08).

I'm not saying that once somebody from the Nuggets team steps up to the leadership role that the team will win a title. But it will transform the team when somebody with the mental makeup that can't stand to lose steps in and takes over. I don't know if the Nuggets have that kind of guy on the roster - as it's the rarest thing to find in professional sports.

When I think of athletes that are absolute freaks about winning a list that immediately pops into my head includes: Michael Jordan - self explanatory, Kobe Bryant - five NBA titles, John Elway - two Super Bowl rings, KG - NBA title winner, Ray Lewis - Super Bowl ring, Peyton Manning - Super Bowl ring, and Tim Duncan - four NBA titles.

How rare is that list above?

Yes, countless other athletes have won titles, but those guys above just stand out as people who if you disappointed them - look out because they were/are going to let you know about it. They hold themselves and their teammates to a higher standard. Nobody had to tell those guys how to lead - they turned themselves into leaders.

Until the Nuggets find a guy like that - they might be stuck in the mud.

View you can use:

-The Nuggets two home losses this season have come to teams playing on the second night of a back-to-back. The Heat game on Nov. 15th was Miami's second of a back-to-back as they played on the 14th, and lost (107-100), to the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center. The Timberwolves were also on the second of a back-to-back as they lost to these Utah Jazz on Jan. 2nd (106-84).

Scouting the Jazz:

Utah played in Phoenix last night - as mentioned above. The Jazz held a 71-62 lead heading into the fourth quarter of a game that the Suns tried to run them to death in. The push the pace Suns are alive and well and the big attacking Jazz are too.

Gordon Hayward's mop top is in full effect. He has a little bit of that herky-jerky style to his game and scored 14 points off the bench for Utah (he has started 10 games this season). He can always light it up, but the Jazz were just 1-9 from deep against the Suns in their 87-80 win.

The big dogs for the Jazz ate well last night. Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson combined to go 17-33 (51%) for 40 points and 18 rebounds (4 offensive). Utah only shot nine free throws last night ... only nine! They were 6-9 from the charity stripe and hopefully the Nuggets won't put them on the line a lot tonight.

With Enes Kanter out the Jazz are able to play Millsap, Jefferson, and Derrick Favors 30+ minutes each - they all played over 30 minutes last night and Favors had 10 points and 9 rebounds in their win.

Jazz player to watch: Alec Burks

The former Colorado Buffalo has worked his way back into Tyrone Corbin's rotation and has averaged 13 minutes a game since Dec. 1st. Burks played 21 minutes last night, but was just 2-7 from the field for 4 points. Not a great shooter, Burks was 0-2 from the foul line and 0-1 from deep too.

Burks does thrive when he can get to the rim and can be found doing some ball-handling for the Jazz - especially since they are missing Mo Williams. Denver will need to monitor him tonight and not allow him to dissect their defense.

***

Denver Nuggets Tickets

Nate_Timmons on Twitter
ntimmons73@yahoo.com

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