SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah Jazz frustration has reached a season high.
Nikola Jokic had 31 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists, powering the short-handed Denver Nuggets to a 98-95 win over the struggling Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.
The Nuggets had just seven players available due to their part in a four-team, 12-player deal a day before the trade deadline and a cascade of injuries.
Jamal Murray scored 31 points and the Nuggets held the Jazz to just one field goal over the final 7:08. The Jazz have now lost five games in a row.
“We haven’t played well,” said head coach Quin Snyder. “We’ve played sporadically and we’re not as good. We have to find that again. There’s no easy answers.”
“There’s no way to lose this game,” said a frustrated Donovan Mitchell, who made 8 of 24 shots for 18 points. “I really don’t got much to say. There’s just no way. You can point at every little thing but it’s not just one person or one incident. There’s no way for us to be who we want to be, who we have been, for us to lose this game.”
Mike Conley scored 21 points to lead the Jazz, but missed a floater with eight seconds left that would have given the Jazz the lead. Gary Harris, who missed all 13 of his field-goal attempts, made two free throws with 5.8 remaining for the final margin.
Jokic posted his 11th triple-double of the season and fortunately for Denver, Murray returned from an 11-game absence due to a sprained ankle.
Mitchell had 18 points on 8-for-24 shooting, Bojan Bogdanovic had 16 points and Rudy Gobert added 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Jazz, who lost their fifth straight game after winning 18 of 20.
The Jazz led 71-56 after Conley’s fifth 3-pointer of the game before the weary Nuggets embarked on a 20-4 run, capped by Morris’ running jumper that gave Denver its first lead since the first quarter, 76-75.
Jokic and Murray went to the bench to rest, and Jazz made their move and weren’t stopped – even when the Denver duo returned.
The Jazz went on an 11-1 run, highlighted by a Clarkson-to-Mitchell alley-oop dunk.
But Torrey Craig, who has harassed Mitchell into multiple subpar games, hit a 3-pointer and then blocked the Utah guard, leading to another layup as and the Nuggets closed within 92-89. Jokic hit a 17-footer that cut Utah’s lead to 93-91.
Last week, the Nuggets pulled off an unlikely sweep in back-to-back games, defeating Utah at home and Milwaukee on the road. They won back-to-back games again, beating the Jazz one night after a 127-99 rout of Portland on Tuesday.
The Jazz next host Portland Friday night at 8:30 p.m.