If the Jazz had lost the first two games, won the last two at home, and then won last night's game, we'd be coming home with the same 3-2 lead. As far as momentum goes, this game had the same feel of game 1 and the Jazz were able to get a win in game 2, so I'm not worried about the Nuggets gaining confidence. They're also going to be coming home for game 6 which should be a momentum stopper.
The Jazz weren't going to be able to hold down the Nuggets shooting percentage for four straight games. Despite all of their issues they've had the past few games, they're still a team that's capable of lighting it up and they did just that.
The Jazz had a lead going into haftime, 52-50, but couldn't hold it as the Nuggets caught fire going 8-8 to start the quarter. They finished that quarter 13-18 overall and when it was over, they had turned that 2-point deficit into a 5-point lead.
So the Jazz had their chance to take another one in Denver. The Jazz scored pretty well in the third as well putting up 29 points of their own and despite the strong quarter from the Nuggets, they were only down five.
Unfortunately, the fourth quarter started out ominously as the Jazz picked up two quick fouls early and by the 9:50 mark, they were already in the penalty. I'd like to see what our record is based on when we go into the penalty at various points in the fourth quarter. I'm going to go out on a huge limb and say that when it's that early in the quarter, we're pretty close to 0-fer. Neither team shot the ball very well but the Nuggets ended up going to the line 20 times in the fourth quarter. That's 80 attempts for a full game if you can't do the math. The Nuggets were the aggressors and got the calls.
Denver pick and rolled the Jazz to death. Thanks Kevin Arnovitz! As a result they were getting easy buckets or foul calls. Yet the Jazz still had a chance to start the fourth quarter. They matched the Nuggets and got within 2 with about 8 minutes left in the game on a Millsap bucket, 92-94. That's when familiar foe JR Smith helped change the tempo of the game with his second three-point shot of the quarter following a Kenyon Martin bucket. That second trey gave the Nuggets a 7-point lead and the Jazz offense went cold after that.
After that Millsap bucket the Jazz had just two free throws over the span of about four minutes before a ninja three from Deron. I don't know how ninja it is when it only gets the team back to within 10, but more on him in a minute. From that last JR Smith bucket, the Nuggets only scored two more field goals for the rest of the game and had 13 points from the line. That was the difference in the game.
So we head back to the ESA with a 3-2 lead and a good chance to take out the Nuggets. It would have been sweet to knock them off in Denver, but we'll just have to live with getting the series win in 6 games.
Some highlights from the game:
Deron Williams, He may not like the MVP chants when he goes to the line but he's bound to hear a lot more of them after his performance in the playoffs. He's fourth in scoring with 28.2 a game and putting up almost 12 assists. He trails only James, Anthony, and Wade in points per game.
We're seeing one of the top playoff performances in Jazz history right now. Take a look at the number of 25 & 10 games in Utah playoff history. Those are huge games by themselves yet he's averaging 28 & 12 for the series. He's getting called on to carry a lot of the load with the Jazz short player but he's also upped his assists He was no less dominate last night hitting 5 three-pointers, getting to the line 10 times, and shooting 10-20 from the field. Putting Billups on him did nothing to slow him down.
When you consider the Jazz's storied playoff past, what he's doing now is legendary. There's no other way to put it.
Carlos Boozer, He was no slouch himself going for 25 & 16 on the night. He had numerous putbacks and it was good to see his jumper falling. My only gripe was that he was one of the primary targets for the Nuggets' pick and roll and he wasn't very effective.
Paul Millsap, Bolerjack was stating last night that Millsap (16 & 9) needed some help from the bench. I'm not sure it was intentional but indirectly he was pointing his finger at Korver who had the golden sombrero last night. Korver and Millsap are our bench right now, no offense to Ronnie Price. So when one of them doesn't have a good game, it's going to hurt.
Wesley Matthew, The game had already been decided but his block in the fourth on Melo was sweet. Melo drove right across the lane and pulled up around the free-throw line. Matthews timed it perfectly and sent Melo back to the ground.
- Denver nailed 7 consecutive three-pointers at one point. That's not going to happen again and that's a good sign for game 6.
- Nene left the game with a sprained knee but from various outlets it sounds like it could be worse. He could be out the rest of the series. That would be a big loss for the Nuggets.
- Game 6 starts at 8, 1/2 hour earlier than normal.
- The Jazz had 15 turnovers on the night which isn't awful but the majority of those came in the first and third quarters.