Danilo Gallinari scored 24 points on the road against the Utah Jazz, but it wasn’t enough, as the Nuggets gave up a lead in the fourth quarter to fall to their Northwest Division rival by a score of 85-81.

Derrick Favors had six blocks, and the Jazz had a balanced scoring night from their starters to supplement a strong defensive performance in the second half to pick up their 23rd win this season. The Jazz limited the Nuggets to 35 points in the second half, coming back from a six-point deficit at halftime.

The Nuggets scrapped and scrapped, turning turnovers into easy points and attacking the rim to get to the free throw line. But without Darrell Arthur, Jameer Nelson, and with Jusuf Nurkic looking more like a Bosnian Beanie Baby then the Bosnian Beast, the Nuggets didn’t have the muscles to overpower the Jazz.

The Nuggets travel back to Denver for a game Friday evening against Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls.

Key Matchup: Gordon Hayward vs. Danilo Gallinari

Gallinari won the matchup, constantly going against Hayward in isolation and getting to the free throw line. But Gallinari was also 5 of 16, so all Hayward ended up having to do was not foul and let his teammates rebound Gallinari's misses. Hayward had some big baskets in the fourth quarter, helping drive a Jazz run that gave them the victory.

Thing to Watch: Nikola Jokic’s response to his career night

Jokic struggled in the first half, appearing to favor his left shoulder. The kinesiology tape came off at halftime, and Big Honey played better, but struggled with fouls as well as the size of Favors. He had three assists in the first quarter, and just one the rest of the game. Everyone seemed a little lethargic tonight, and Jokic was part of that "everyone" group.

Jokic did have a nice response to getting blocked, coming back and hitting a 3-pointer, but the rookie was quiet for most of the game otherwise.

Three thoughts:

This kind of game is a game where Jusuf Nurkic should thrive. The Jazz are a big team, with Favors, Gobert and Booker all capable players on defense. Nurkic is big enough to match-up well with all those guys, but he is still working his way back into a rhythm after missing the offseason. Instead, Nurkic played 15 minutes, went 1 for 3, five rebounds, no blocks or steals, and two turnovers. He's been back for a month – things need to start picking up for the Bosnian Beast.

Danilo Gallinari did a lot for the Nuggets, but someone else needed to step up. The Jazz are a good defensive team, and with Gobert and Favors, Nikola Jokic was going to be busy every second he spent on the floor. The Nuggets have struggled this season to find a secondary scorer – at times it is Barton, or Harris, or Faried. Gallinari had a great night, and was able to get to the foul line time after time, but Denver needs someone else.

That secondary scorer can be someone on the roster – Harris, Jokic or Nurkic would be my best guess – and Wilson Chandler should help next season, but it’s still an area of concern, and one where a solution becomes apparent soon.

Nuggets weren't afraid of going to the rim. Gobert has turned away his fair share of shots this season, and Favors finished with six blocks. They had one possession with multiple shot attempts blocked, but Jokic came back down and calmly knocked down a 3-pointer. They didn't appear rattled, just kept fighting until the final whistle. The next time they play the Jazz, maybe they'll manage to make a few more jump shots while remaining aggressive. Thirty-three free throw attempts for them on the evening, a fine performance at the line with 25 made free throws.

Box Score

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