The Denver Nuggets were a completely different team in Game 2, as the Utah Jazz tied the series 1-1.
Most figured that the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz would have a long series, particularly after Game 1 went to overtime. Wednesday afternoon’s matchup did nothing to change anyone’s mind.
The Jazz opened the game shooting 7-9 from the field, with sharpshooter Joe Ingles scoring 8 points. Utah quickly got out to a 17-11 advantage before Denver took a timeout with 6:09 remaining in the first.
Out of the timeout though, the Nuggets went on a 7-0 run and took a 1-point lead (18-17) with 4:22 remaining. Following a Jordan Clarkson 3-pointer (20-18), both teams went cold and the Jazz took their first timeout with 2:48 remaining in the quarter.
Denver finished the period on a 7-0 run and trailed the Jazz 27-25 at the end of one. Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic totaled 11 points and 4 rebounds in the opening quarter.
Much to the pleasure of Denver’s fans, rookie forward Michael Porter Jr. came alive in the second period, scoring 12 points in just six minutes.
An and-one layup by Paul Millsap gave Denver their first lead (42-39) since the start of the game with 6:01 remaining in the half. However, Utah finished the quarter on a 22-6 run and entered the break with a 61-48 lead. Playing through plenty of contact, Rudy Gobert scored 12 points for the Jazz through two quarters and Clarkson added 16 points off Utah’s bench.
Jokic totaled 15 points and six rebounds in the first half, while Porter chipped in 12 points on 4-7 shooting.
Despite Denver’s efforts, the Nuggets struggled to cut into the Jazz’s lead during the third due to porous defense and Donovan Mitchell continuing to capitalize on the double-teams being thrown at him. After an Ingles 3-pointer, Utah took a 15-point lead (69-54) and Denver took their first timeout of the second half with 8:41 remaining. The Jazz finished the quarter shooting 14-19 from the field, outscored Denver 43-31 and held 104-79 heading into the fourth.
While Utah did not have an offensive explosion in the fourth quarter, it was too little, too late for the Nuggets. With 4:09 remaining, Denver subbed in their bench, the closest they came within the Jazz was 19 points and they ultimately lost the game 124-105.
Mitchell carried over his momentum from Game 1, as he finished with 30 points (with 24 points in the second half) and 8 assists in Utah’s win. Clarkson added 26 points off Utah’s bench and Gobert totaled 19 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Despite the blowout loss though, there is reason for hope. Though they had to make plenty of tough shots, Jokic and Porter Jr. both finished the game with 28 points, while the Nuggets shot 13-27 (48 percent) from downtown. Nonetheless, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone may need to make some defensive adjustments moving forward, as Mitchell is averaging 43.5 points per game in the series thus far.
The Jazz’s win ties the series at 1-1. Game 3 is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 21 at 4 p.m. EST.