Nikola Jokic was dominant with a monster triple-double. Jokic ended the game with 31 points, 14 assists, and 12 rebounds. The Jazz have had a very good offense all season but have also really struggled to defend this season. Jokic is the former MVP and will put up big numbers against anyone, but he seemed to toy with Utah’s defenders inside. He’s a truly gifted offensive player.
The other Nugget to have a big night was Jamal Murray. Murray looked like his days in the bubble when he couldn’t be stopped. Against the Jazz tonight, he cut to the rim and hit shots near the rim all night. He ended the game with 30 points and shot 68% from the field. If the Nuggets have their duo of Murray and Jokic rolling again, they’ll be a difficult out in the playoffs.
The story of this game for the Jazz was the level of fight. Multiple times the Jazz were down double digits and would fight back to get in the game. The shooting is one of the things that keeps them in these games. In this game, they shot 41 threes and knocked down 15 of them for 36%. The player who really shined for Utah was Nickeil Alexander-Walker. He was all over the floor, hitting shots and finding his teammates. His three-point shot is starting to fall with regularity as he’s gotten more time on the floor. Tonight he was 5/10 from three while also taking on playmaking duties. How the Jazz are able to have nights like this from players like NAW is pretty remarkable. The Jazz had no business being in this game but found themselves up by 4 late in the 3rd quarter. It’s a testament to the players' character on the floor that they’ll play hard no matter what. It’s also a testament to the coaching from Will Hardy, who sets his players up to succeed. There isn’t a team out there easier to root for than this Jazz team of misfit toys. Somehow, with all their quirks and flaws, they work together in an impressive way, creating a balance that has been a joy to watch.
Win or lose, it’s been an impressive year of Jazz basketball so far, and there’s no reason to think it won’t continue.