After an explosion of points in Game 1, Denver got the scoring rolling early with a layup by Paul Millsap off of a slick feed by Nikola Jokic. Not to be outdown, Juwan Morgan, after a quiet first game, nailed a 3-point shot from the corner. After a pair of misses by Denver, Joe Ingles made a 3-pointer of his own to stretch their lead up to four before Jokic got himself in the scoring column.
Jokic “caught” Rudy Gobert with a pair of elbows, but they went uncalled. Jokic capitalized on the flops with an easy layup. Gobert made up for it on the other end by making a contested layup. Following a miss by Jamal Murray, Donovan Mitchell cashed a shot from mid-range in the face of Michael Porter Jr. While the Denver offense was struggling and looking disjointed, Ingles made another shot to grow the lead before he made a 3-point shot on the following possession.
Down 15-8, Jokic drained a 3-point shot to cut the lead to four before Mitchell got another basket to fall. Coming out of a timeout, Jokic kept rolling with a mid-range jumper to give him 11 of the team’s 13 points. After a miss by Jordan Clarkson, Monte Morris confidently rose up for a 3-point shot that brought Denver within one with 4:40 remaining. After a close miss by Mitchell, Jerami Grant got a wing jumper to fall before Clarkson nailed a 3-point shot to retake the lead.
Following misses and a timeout, Emmanual Mudiay made a 3-point shot to extend Utah’s lead to five. After a miss by Jokic, Clarkson went coast-to-coast for an easy layup. Porter turned the ball over when he had it stripped away, and Utah capitalized with the transition layup. As a result, it completed a 10-0 run that put them back up by nine. Monte Morris made a pair of free throws before an excellent defensive possession forced a 24-second violation. Grant promptly capitalized with a 3-point shot from the top of the key.
Following his previous turnover, Porter knocked the ball out of Georgis Niang’s hands to force a turnover. Morris brought the team within two with 30 seconds remaining. After forcing another miss by Clarkson, Grant had a chance to give the team the final shot before he chucked it out of bounds. An attempt by Ingles missed at the buzzer, and the two team’s were close with a 27-25 lead for the Jazz heading to the second quarter.
Coming out of the break, Grant got a block on Niang, and Porter was pushing the pace where he drew a foul inside and tied the game at the line. Mudiay made another layup, and, following a turnover by P.J. Dozier, Niang nailed a difficult fadeaway jumper. After misses by both sides, Clarkson made a contested 3-point shot to extend their lead to seven, but Porter got the points back immediately with one of his own.
After a pair of Utah misses, Porter rose up in the face of Niang for another 3-point make that brought them within one. On the other end, Royce O’Neal found Tony Bradley for a hard layup, and he converted the and-one at the line. Porter was having one of those spurts, and he rolled hard to the rim where he threw down a big dunk. After an air ball by Mitchell, Porter came back on the other end to nail a mid-range jumper that tied the game at 37.
Gobert made a pair of free throws, but Murray slithered inside for a finger-roll layup. Porter got a near-block on defense, and Millsap dribbled hard inside to draw a foul and convert the shot. He converted the 3-point play, but Clarkson immediately made a contested 3-pointer to tie the game up once again. Following a questionable foul on Jokic, Mitchell converted a tough alley-oop layup. After a miss by Murray, Gobert got right to the basket for a contested layup that extended the lead to four.
Following a timeout, Gobert was blocked by Grant, but Murray turned the ball over immediately. As a result, Gobert was still back which gave him an open look that he easily put home. Down 49-42, Jokic got a bucket to fall, but O’Neal made a 3-point shot of his own. Denver was making shots, but they weren’t cutting into the lead. Following a Utah miss, Murray made a difficult mid-range jumper. The only problem was Clarkson made a step-back 3-point shot on the very next possession to re-extend the lead to seven.
Gobert went 1-of-2 at the line that made it 56-48. After a miss by Jokic, O’Neal made another 3-pointer that brought the lead to 11. Gobert then swatted Jokic’s shot into next week with the shot clock winding down. Clarkson put up a layup with just a few seconds left. It missed, but Gobert slammed it home before the clock could expire. Heading into halftime, the Jazz were leading 61-48, and the shooting was hot.
Coming out in the second half, the two sides were trading possessions before Morgan slammed home a big alley-oop dunk to stretch the lead to 15. Thankfully for Denver, Porter was still torching nets with a big 3-point shot. After a miss by Utah, Jokic drove the ball all the way to the hole and made a shot with Gobert all over him to bring them within 10. After being quiet in the first half, Mitchell got a 3-point shot to fall to extend that lead again. Jokic was fouled on a rebound, but he went just 1-of-2 on his free throws.
Up by 12, Ingles made a wide-open 3-point shot that extended the lead to 15 and forced Michael Malone to call a timeout. Jokic was showing some aggressiveness in the second half. He was attacking, and it was creating opportunities for himself and others. After missing a free throw, he found Porter for another triple before Mitchell matched him. Jokic missed a 3-point shot, and, after giving up an offensive rebound, Ingles made a triple that extended the lead to 17.
Jokic got an offensive rebound around Gobert to give himself a double-double, and he converted the layup. The only problem is Mitchell and the Jazz were cooking as he hit another 3-point shot. Murray made an acrobatic layup, but Niang made a 3-point shot that stretched the lead up to 19. Jamal attacked the basket where he converted a layup that turned into a 3-point play at the line.
Following a big block by Grant, Denver got out in transition where he was rewarded with a 3-point shot that brought them within 13. Coming out of a timeout, Niang made a floater, but Murray kept himself rolling with a 3-point shot. Clarkson drew a foul and made both of his free throws, and Denver was unable to match at the other end. Mitchell found O’Neal in the corner where he made his third 3-point shot of the game. Jokic went 1-of-2 at the free-throw line, but they were still down by 16. Clarkson then extended that to 18.
Everyone was cooking if they were wearing white jerseys. Mitchell made another 3-opinter that took the lead all the way to 21, and they just couldn’t be stopped. Mitchell drove through Murray to the basket where he made the layup through a foul before converting the 3-point play at the line. Clarkson went to the free-throw line after being fouled, and he took the lead up to 24. Following a rare Utah miss, Denver got a 3-point make out of Morris, but they were still down by 21.
With just over 1:00 remaining, Mitchell got Plumlee in the air on a 3-point attempt and drew the foul. After making all three free throws, Plumlee made a shot at the buzzer on the other end. Right away, Mitchell made a deep 3-point shot that stretched the lead to 25. Denver was unable to answer, and Mitchell missed a shot to end the quarter. It was looking worse than grim for Denver heading into the fourth quarter down 104-79.
To start the fourth quarter, the two sides traded misses prior to a make by Ingles at the rim. On the other end, Jokic was fouled at the cup, and he went to the line where he went 2-of-2. Clarkson took a ball from the corner to basket where he slammed it home. Following a turnover by Murray, Ingles missed a transition shot, but Gobert had the easy putback layup. Down by 31, Jokic was working inside to try and get something done in the final 10 minutes of the game.
He drew a foul and made both of his foul shots. After having Gobert trapped under the basket, they allowed him to flip it out to Clarkson who drove in for another easy layup. Porter wasn’t stopping his play though. He made a contested 3-point shot before stuffing Gobert’s shot off the backboard. He then took his board coast-to-coast to lay it in and force a Utah timeout down by 26.
Out of the timeout, Mitchell made a 3-point shot that just felt like another dagger to Denver. Jokic and Porter made a pair of 2-point shots, but they were still down by 27 prior to an offensive foul by Mitchell. Thanks to an offensive rebound by Dozier, he got a shot to fall, but it was still a brutal task to come back. Gobert went 1-of-2 from the line, and the Nuggets were starting to empty their bench with just over 6:00 remaining. Despite missing a layup, Porter made another 3-point shot to give him 28 on the night.
Following a timeout, Gobert got another layup to fall, but this was all for show with the lineup Denver had on the floor. Dozier went 1-of-2 at the line, and Utah was finally clearing out their reserves. Bol Bol got some minutes late in the game, and everyone was running the clock out. Troy Daniels knocked down a 3-point shot, and Bol got a pair of free throws to fall. The final score would end up being 124-105.
On the defensive end, Denver flat out has to be better. They allowed far too many wide open looks from everywhere on the floor. Utah is good enough to make them pay when you allow them the opportunity, and they showed that tonight with a mark that would have been 50 percent from 3-point range if it weren’t for some late garbage-time shots.
Points: Michael Porter Jr. & Nikola Jokic - 28
Assists: Jokic - 6
Rebounds: Jokic - 11
Player of the Game: Michael Porter Jr. - 28 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block, 10-of-17 & 6-of-9 3-point range