The Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets went at it in what felt like a playoff game, and all fans that tuned in were rewarded with an entertaining display of team basketball.
Even while missing a superstar each (Donovan Mitchell and Jamal Murray), both sides showed how a balanced offense and team-oriented basketball helps win games.
The undoubted star of the show was Bojan Bogdanovic, who put on a shooting clinic. It felt like the Croatian forward simply couldn’t miss as he poured on a career-high 48 points on an astounding 16 of 23 from the field and 8 of 11 from beyond the arc. It was the highest-scoring game by a Jazz player since the Karl Malone era over two decades ago.
A lot of Bogdanovic’s points came through open shots thanks to great ball movement, and he rewarded his teammates for their trust today.
He helped the Jazz to a hard-fought 127-120 victory against the Denver Nuggets.
Though Bogdanovic had a career night, it’s important to note that it happened while playing within the team’s system. You saw him continue to make smart plays and even pass up decent opportunities to shoot in transition to let the Jazz find a better chance to score.
Even with Bogi’s big night, they had key contributions from four other players:
- Jordan Clarkson: (21 PTS, 5 REB, 8 AST)
- Rudy Gobert: (14 PTS, 9 REB, 2 BLK, 1 STL)
- Georges Niang: (13 PTS, 4 REB)
- Joe Ingles: (10 PTS, 3 REB, 9 AST)
Clarkson had a weird shooting night, going 6 of 20 and missing all of two-point field goal attempts. He made up for it, though, by shooting 6 of 14 from three – including a pivotal triple in the final minute of the game.
While the Nuggets came up short, a lot of credit needs to be given to them as well in what ended up just being a tough battle.
The ever-present MVP candidate Nikola Jokic was their leader as usual, putting up 24 points, nine rebounds, and 13 assists. Just like the Jazz, he had a lot of help from his teammates:
- Michael Porter Jr: (31 PTS, 6 REB)
- Paul Millsap: (19 PTS, 2 AST)
- Austin Rivers: (18 PTS, 2 REB, 3 AST)
- Aaron Gordon: (10 PTS, 6 REB)
A telling stat for both teams was also how many of their baskets were the result of an assist:
- Nuggets: (43 made FG, 31 assists: 72%)
- Jazz: (43 made FG, 27 assists: 62.7%)
With only few games left in the season, there’s a chance that the Jazz and Nuggets could meet each other in the second round if they finished in their current positions.
Based on today’s game, that is a mouthwatering prospect. The Jazz will want a shot to avenge last year’s embarrassment, where they blew a 3-1 series lead. I’d love to watch the rematch, even without Murray in the mix this time.