Former Jazzman Trey Lyles scores career-high 26 points in Denver’s 99-91 win


DENVER (ABC4 Sports) – Trey Lyles was considered expendable by Utah on draft night in June. He did his best to show the Jazz it was a mistake to let him go.

Lyles scored a career-high 26 points, Jamal Murray also had 26 points and the Denver Nuggets beat Utah 99-91 on Friday night.

Lyles also grabbed seven rebounds. He averaged 21 points and 7.5 rebounds in the two home games against his former team to help the Nuggets split the season series with the Jazz.

”Trey, he’s got an opportunity to play right now and he’s taking advantage of it,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. ”We felt he’s a really good player. There’s part of you, I’m happy to see him playing well. I wish we would have done better against him tonight. But he worked hard for us and I think we put a lot of time in trying to help him get better.”

Lyles didn’t play in seven of the first 10 games of the season but has become a key reserve after Paul Millsap went down with a left wrist injury in November. He has scored in double figures in 12 of the last 13 games, but saved his best performance for his former team.

”I went out there with the mindset to just play the game,” he said. ”It doesn’t matter who it’s going against; luckily it was against them. Another game in the books for me.”

Lyles and Murray, both members of the Canadian national team, each scored seven points in the third when Denver outscored the Jazz 38-16 after trailing by three at halftime.

”We were taking the ball out of the net the whole time when a team scores 38 points on you,” Snyder said.

Donovan Mitchell had 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, Ricky Rubio also scored 15 points and Derrick Favors had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Utah. The Jazz fell to 3-16 on the road this season, the worst road record in the Western Conference.

The game was tied at 56 when Murray hit a 3-pointer, was fouled and made the free throw to start a 20-5 Denver run. Nikola Jokic, who missed his first four shots of the third quarter, capped the run with his first 3-pointer to give the Nuggets a 76-61 lead with 3:37 left in the third.

”We just started locking down defensively,” Lyles said. ”We made it hard for them to score and get what they wanted. When we play defense like that we can score with the best of them.”

Lyles converted a three-point play to extend the lead to 17, and Will Barton’s 3-pointer in the final minute of the period gave Denver an 84-65 lead heading into the fourth.

The lead was 21 early in the fourth before Utah made a run to close within eight in the final minute.

The Jazz continue their road trip Sunday afternoon in Miami.

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