SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Rudy Gobert led the Jazz with 23 points and 16 rebounds, Donovan pitched in with 22 points, and Jordan Clarkson came off the bench to score 19 in Utah’s 122-110 win over Denver.
The Jazz are now 3-0 to start the season, one of just three undefeated teams left in the NBA, along with Golden State and Chicago.
Utah ramped up its defense in the 4th quarter, holding Denver to 20 points and ultimately pulling away for the victory.
“When we share the ball on offense, then our defense gets better,” said Gobert “I like when that happens and that’s when we play our best basketball.”
The Nuggets took their last lead 93-91 before Gobert’s defense, and free throw shooting launched a 11-2 run to push the Jazz to victory.
“I was mad at myself for missing four free throws in the first half so it gave me a great opportunity to redeem myself,” Gobert said.
Reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic went down with an injury late in the second quarter. He had 24 points in 15 minutes before the injury.
Two minutes before halftime, Jokic banged knees with Gobert and stayed down holding his right leg. He eventually got up with assistance and limped to the locker room. He will be examined again, but initial injury report was a knee contusion.
Denver coach Michael Malone doesn’t think it’s too serious.
“I went up to Nikola as he was warming up at halftime. I said, ‘How do you feel?’ He said ‘It feels a little weak’ and I just shut him down. I took the decision (out of his hands). It’s not his decision to make,” Malone said. “He’s far too important to this team for us to risk him being out there if he’s not feeling confident about it.”
Utah outrebounded Denver 41-35, and won the offensive glass 8-5.
Both Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley poured in 15 points for the Jazz in the victory.
Late in the fourth quarter, Denver tried to use the “Hack a Gobert” strategy to no avail. The big man knocked down eight of his last 10 free throws, after only making one of his first six.
Joe Ingles hit his 1,000th 3-pointer in the 122-110 win but he wasn’t the only Jazz player to hit a milestone. Clarkson scored his 8,000th career point.
“Every time Jordan is on balance and goes up, you think it’s going to go in … and I thought Joe, when they were switching or blitzing, used his size and his ability to pass, find people and make it easier on everyone,” Snyder said.
The game had high emotion uncharacteristic for an early-season encounter. It boiled over with 4:57 remaining when Hassan Whiteside and JaMychal Green started pushing, bumping and jawing, before teammates and security separated the pair.
Both were assessed technical fouls and ejected from the game.
“That’s how I grew up. That’s New York City basketball at its finest. We’re now embracing it as a group, as well,” Mitchell said. “The biggest thing for us is to be able to still execute while being pushed.”
The Utah Jazz will begin a three game road trip at Houston on October 28th.