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Instant analysis: Utah Jazz grind out win against Denver Nuggets

SHARE Instant analysis: Utah Jazz grind out win against Denver Nuggets
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Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, right, pulls in a rebound in front of forward Bojan Bogdanovic in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, in Denver.

David Zalubowski, Associated Press

In their first meeting since the playoffs, the Utah Jazz beat the Denver Nuggets 109-105 on the road on Sunday for their fifth straight victory.

High notes

  • Rudy Gobert started the game playing really strong around the rim, pulling down tough rebounds, fighting to get control of the ball and playing with both hands on offense through contact. He maintained that aggressiveness throughout the game, which helped him get to the line quite a bit, where he was 7-of-13.
  • Utilizing Miye Oni on Jamal Murray seemed to really help the Jazz in the second half in slowing Murray down with someone who is quick but also has length. Murray scored 24 of his 30 points in the first half and was significantly slowed in the second half where he went just 2-of-11.

“Give Miye credit, man. He’s just been absorbing a lot and it’s tough when you have a lot of voices kind of coming at you, but he’s been great taking information from everybody and going out there and putting it into the game.” —Donovan Mitchell

  • Mike Conley continues to just play amazing for the Jazz. It’s crazy to think that a year ago most Jazz fans had pegged the Conley deal as a terrible one, and were calling Conley washed. In particular, Conley’s work in the pick-and-roll with Gobert is such a strength for the Jazz and has come such a long way in a year. Conley was great in nearly every aspect on Sunday, with one exception that was strange for him (more on that below).

“My imprint on the game hopefully is starting to show more. I do a lot of things that might not show up in the scoreboard. You know, I can score 30 or 15 or have 10 assists or two, or 10 rebounds. I don’t really care, I just want to win.” — Mike Conley

  • The balanced scoring was a really nice thing to see from the Jazz with Jordan Clarkson having a quiet but super efficient team-high 23 points.
  • Nikola Jokic has such nice touch at the rim. He’s known so much for his passing as a big and that’s definitely a strong point, but his precision and soft touch is incredibly impressive, especially considering how much contact he has to play through and how much attention he consistently has on him.
  • Quin Snyder used a challenge for a late, fourth-quarter play which could have resulted in two free throws for Jokic and a foul on Gobert. Instead, the challenge was successful and a jump ball at center court put the ball in the Jazz hands. It was a well-timed and perfect use of the coach’s challenge.

Low Notes

  • Donovan Mitchell had a rough night on the offensive end. That wasn’t helped at all by the fact that at least three of his shots in the first half were heaves or forcing at the last second of the shot clock, which is a failing of all of the players on the floor not creating any openings and putting it into his hands with no time to get off a smart shot. Mitchell finished with 18 points but on just 7-of-20 from the field including 0-of-7 from deep.
  • Conley, who before this season was a career 81.9% free throw shooter, was shooting 77.1% from the charity stripe on the season before Sunday’s game before missing all four of his free throw attempts against the Nuggets 

Flat notes

  • Jazz players not named Gobert have to work a little harder on the boards. Allowing the Nuggets to get double digits of offensive rebounds before halftime is just not OK, and Gobert can’t get every rebound. The Nuggets finished the night with 23 offensive rebounds that led to 14 second-chance points.

“The one area where I thought we’ve been pretty good that hurt us was the offensive glass. But even that, I think as the game went on, we got more urgent and more determined on the glass.” — Jazz head coach Quin Snyder