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3 keys to the Utah Jazz’s 118-114 win over the Denver Nuggets

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Utah Jazz guard Ochai Agbaji (wearing black) goes hard to the rim for a monster dunk over Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon

Utah Jazz guard Ochai Agbaji (30) goes hard to the rim for a monster dunk over Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon (50) as Utah and Denver play at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 8, 2023.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The Utah Jazz beat the Denver Nuggets, 118-114, Saturday afternoon at Vivint Arena, in the Jazz’s final home game of the 2022-23 season.

The Jazz still have one more game, in Los Angeles against the Lakers on Sunday before the season is officially over.

Here are three keys that contributed to the Jazz’s victory:

  • With the Jazz out of playoff contention, all of the Jazz’s starters from earlier in the season were sidelined by either rest or various injuries. Lauri Markkanen, Kelly Olynyk, Jordan Clarkson, Walker Kessler, Talen Horton-Tucker, Rudy Gay and Collin Sexton were all watching in street clothes.

The Nuggets started the game with a healthy roster, including MVP candidate Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, but decided to preserve their players in the fourth quarter for their Sunday bout against the Sacramento Kings, leaving the door open for the Jazz to make a run.

  • Ochai Agbaji and Luka Samanic both set career-highs in points against the Nuggets. Samanic, two days after signing a two-year deal with the Jazz, finished the game with a career-high 23 points. Agbaji hit two key free throws with less than 15 seconds left to close the game with a career-high 28 points.
  • Though Jokic finished the game with 10 rebounds and 10 assists, he scored just six points before exiting the game, far below his usual 24.8 points per game this season.