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Analysis: Jazz remain undefeated after win over Nuggets

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, wearing a white jersey, goes to the hoop ahead of Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, wearing a blue jersey, during the game
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) goes to the hoop ahead of Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) during the game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

The Utah Jazz beat the Denver Nuggets 122-110 on Tuesday night to improve to 3-0 on the 2021-22 season.

High notes

  • Aaron Gordon was really giving it to the Jazz, and Quin Snyder was more than willing to try different guys to defend him. He sent out Bojan Bogdanovic and that didn’t work. He tried out Royce O’Neale and that didn’t seem to be any better. There was a short stint that he used Eric Paschall for a little bit on Gordon and that actually seemed nice, but it didn’t really line up with Snyder’s preferred sub pattern. Then, when Nikola Jokic went out of the game it was Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside’s turn. I don’t really care right now — third game of the season — if they didn’t find the perfect answer. What I like was that Snyder was willing to try out different stuff and wasn’t waiting that long to do it.
  • Royce O’Neale continues to be one of the more impressive players in transition defense. His chase-down block of Michael Porter Jr. was a highlight worthy moment.
  • The Nuggets decided to deploy the hack-a-Gobert tactic in the fourth quarter. Sure, a fine idea, except for it didn’t work.
    “I was mad at myself for missing four free throws in a row in the first half and they gave me a great opportunity to redeem myself.” — Rudy Gobert
  • There was a pretty heated skirmish midway through the fourth quarter when there was some pushing between JaMyChal Green and Whiteside. For reasons currently unknown, the officials decided that it was enough to eject both players from the game. Now I’m not ever going to condone legit fighting, but this wasn’t that. And, to have a player on the Jazz who in the third game of the season, who is not going to back down and is competitive at a pretty high level, is not something that any of the Jazz players or coaches are going to complain about. Now if Gobert is getting tossed for little tiffs here and there in big games, that’ll be a problem. This wasn’t that. There was some added excitement to the game, and I’m pro-excitement.
    “Any time you have scuffles, confrontations in games, that’s just part of an NBA game. Those things happen because guys compete at a high level.” — Jazz head coach Quin Snyder
  • Paschall, who was questionable for Tuesday’s game because of a facial infection (not quite sure exactly what that means), played and played well. I’m continually impressed by how well he seems to have taken to the Jazz’s defensive system without being with the team long and without extended minutes.
  • As per usual, Gobert and Donovan Mitchell are very impressive, as is Jordan Clarkson, who somehow never seems phased by anything.
  • You could probably look at Jared Butler’s minutes and think that it’s a low note. The Jazz lost part of their lead and he didn’t do anything to great and picked up a couple of fouls. But the good thing is that the Jazz had enough of a lead to comfortably play Butler and give a rest to Mike Conley for a few minutes. That, in the long run, is an absolute net positive and Butler is going to find his footing.

Low notes

  • If you’re going to criticize the Jazz for anything it should be that they haven’t really had a game yet where they’ve had it together from beginning to end. That’s not something to be super worried about in the early days of the season and even though they’ve had offensive and defensive problems early on in their first three games, they’ve come around and been pretty dominant in the minutes that matter. If this continues to be a problem into January, then we’ll talk about it.
    “We were sluggish in the third quarter and some of that was them and some of it was us. I thought we really responded and defended in the fourth which is a mindset I didn’t think we started the game with. We were scoring the ball really efficiently, but there was a long period where we were just trading with them.” — Quin Snyder

Flat notes

  • Jokic was injured at the end of the second quarter after knee-to-knee contact with Gobert. At first it looked like he was in a ton of pain, but the Nuggets reported that Jokic had a knee contusion and was questionable to return, later ruling him out. It’s great that it’s not a serious injury, but it’s not great that we didn’t get to watch a full game of Jokic vs. Gobert.