The Utah Jazz beat the Denver Nuggets 127-120 on Friday night at Vivint Arena behind a career-high 48-point performance from Bojan Bogdanovic.

High notes

  • Bogdanovic has been brilliant lately, but he topped it all with his performance on Friday night, scoring a career-high 48 points on an incredibly efficient 16 of 23 shooting night, including 8 of 11 from 3-point range. It wasn’t just the number of points though, it was his overall play. He was hitting above the break 3s and circus shots from under the hoop, backing down anyone in the paint and carving up the defense like he was one of the league’s elite guards. He carried the Jazz and did it in a beautiful way.

“Every shot that I took I thought it is going in. The team was really looking for me all game long, the coach, coaching staff were trying make plays for me. So big night, like I said, and it’s also big win for us.” — Bogdanovic

  • Georges Niang has quietly but very effectively elevated his play of late, especially on the defensive end. He made some really great plays on Friday, including a hounding possession against Nikola Jokic. He also was one of the players that helped to stop the Nuggets in transition and was working his tail off. It paid off for him on the offensive end too, where he made 13 points, all of it in the second half.

“I am competitive, and if you have enough times where the other team is calling you up because they think you’re the weakest link, you want to put an end to it, where, like, enough is enough. So I wanted to go into this year with that mentality where I was going to make guys have to score really tough buckets against me, and I feel like I’ve done a good job of that and I’ve worked extremely hard.” — Niang

<em>“Every shot that I took I thought it is going in. The team was really looking for me all game long, the coach, coaching staff were trying make plays for me. So big night, like I said, and it’s also big win for us.” — Jazz forward Bojan B</em>ogdanovic

  • The Jazz made life very hard for Jokic. Yes, the Nuggets All-Star still scored 24 points, but that’s less than his season average of 26.4 and he only took two 3-pointers, which is where he’s hurt the Jazz before. But more importantly he had to work very hard for every point and that’s what you have to do against the best players in the league, especially ones of MVP caliber like Jokic. You’re not going to slow them down — you just have to make them work.
  • The Nuggets have three different players that have a very high shot release: Jokic, JaMychal Green and Michael Porter Jr. That’s incredibly valuable. The lower the release the easier it is to guard and on the other end of the spectrum the higher the release it’s very difficult to guard.
  • You can say all you want about Jordan Clarkson having inefficient nights but when it’s a 3-point game with less than a minute to play and he hits a deep pull-up 3, you can’t tell me that’s not a guy you’d want on your team. He got hot in the first quarter and then cooled off for most of the game, missing many that he normally would make. But Clarkson is nothing if not confident and he kept shooting, scoring seven of his 21 points in the fourth quarter — and they were very timely, important buckets. He also had eight assists, five rebounds and came up with two steals.

Low notes

  • The Jazz struggled on the defensive end early on. There were just a ton of miscommunications and guys missing rotations, letting the Nuggets get an early lead that the Jazz had to fight against. The Jazz ended up turning it up and playing a lot better, doing well on switches, but as we get closer to the playoffs you have to start thinking about what would happen in a postseason game. The Jazz can’t take a whole quarter in the playoffs to figure a team out defensively or to get into their own defensive rhythm — they have to be ready out of the gate.

“We had some breakdowns, just some silly stuff where we made a few fouls, where we weren’t thinking, some individual stuff where we lost track a Porter. A bunch of things have to happen for you to give up a 40-point quarter. But I think we kept attacking offensively. We talked about a few things at halftime that we tried to focus on trying to do that we didn’t feel like we’d executed well enough in the first half, and in the second half, obviously, we were able to do that.” — Jazz head coach Quin Snyder

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  • Miye Oni fouled JaVale McGee on a fast break. McGee was bringing the ball up the full length of the court. This was a KYP moment — know your personnel. In that situation you don’t need to foul to stop the break; let McGee make a mistake on his own. He’s not going to get back to the basket before defenders, so let Rudy Gobert get back and deal with it.
  • Clarkson and Royce O’Neale, when open, should not be passing to Trent Forrest. I’m all for getting a young guy some reps and letting him gain his confidence, but not during this game and not when two much better shooters are already open.

Flat notes

  • The biggest loser of this game was not the Denver Nuggets, it was ESPN. The game was originally scheduled to be played on national television, but when LeBron James came back from missing 20 consecutive games the scheduling brass decided that Portland vs. Lakers was a better game to show. Well, James is out again, didn’t play on Friday and the Nuggets-Jazz game was one of the best of the season. It was an incredible game, it had the intensity of a playoff game, it had great play from both teams and it was an excellent showing from two of the Western Conference’s playoff teams. And less people were able to see it. ESPN chose wrong.