DENVER (ABC4 Sports) – It turns out, Rudy Gobert does indeed make a difference.
Back after missing the last five games because of testing positive for Covid, Gobert had 18 points, 19 rebounds, made all seven of his shots and was a plus-36 as the Jazz pulled away from Denver to end a four-game slide, 125-102.
Donovan Mitchell scored 31 points, while Bojan Bogdanovic finished with 21 points to help the Jazz won for the first time since January 5th, which was also at Denver.
Gobert had missed the previous five games after testing positive for COVID-19. Utah beat Denver in its first game without him but then dropped the next four.
The Jazz shot 52.4 percent from the floor. Utah has won all three meetings with the Nuggets his season, including two on the road, and in this one they used a big fourth quarter to pull away.
“The last [losing] stretch I think is going to make us better down the road,” Gobert said. “It’s still a long season, still a lot of games, but one game at a time we’re going to keep getting better. Sometimes you’re going to be uncomfortable, sometimes it’s not going to be pretty. At the end of the day we want to win. We’re competitors, we’re grown men, so we have to hold each other accountable and keep getting better.”
Nikola Jokic finished with 25 points, 15 rebounds and 14 assists for his second triple-double in two days to lead Denver. He tied Russell Westbrook for the most in the NBA this season with nine and now has 66 in his career.
Aaron Gordon scored 20 points and Will Barton added 16 for the Nuggets, who averaged 136.5 points in their last two games but scored just 14 in the fourth quarter on Sunday.
The Jazz led after a 15-2 run spanning the first and second quarters and built a 13-point lead in the third. Denver rallied to take an 81-80 lead on Barton’s three-point play but Utah carried a 91-88 lead into the fourth.
The Jazz took control with Jokic on the bench to start the final quarter. They scored the first 11 points of the period in a 15-0 run over the third and fourth quarters to lead 102-88.
Jokic’s jumper ended the Nuggets’ drought and they pulled to 103-93 but Mitchell sparked a 10-2 run that put it away.
“Obviously Rudy coming back you want to play well,” said Mitchell, who made 11 of 24 shots from the field. “We haven’t played well as a group, you know and we finally figured it out a little bit tonight. We’ve got another test tomorrow, so tonight was good it was a big step forward we just got to keep doing it.”
The Jazz next play at the Lakers Monday night.