As always, points in the paint were the key to another Denver Nuggets victory, while Danilo Gallinari made the most of his few shots to lead his team, especially in the fourth quarter. With the win, it doesn’t only improve the Nuggets’ chances of getting the third seed in the West, meaning a much easier team to face in the first round of the playoffs, but shaping the battle for the final ticket.
The Utah Jazz were on quite a run, but losing at home to the Nuggets, this easily, wasn’t something they were planning to go through. And yet, this complicates things for them, giving the Lakers that 8th spot once again. Denver won 113-96, outscoring Utah 58-40 in the paint, while Gallinari led the way with 21 points including 13 in the fourth while shooting 6-10 from the field.
It’s a solid win for us in a race that is probably going to go down to the last week. In a way, I hate helping the Lakers, but now maybe they can help us. George Karl has never been shy of letting his thoughts be known, but what can you do, succeeding with your own team, hopefully making it past the first round in the postseason for only the second time since taking over the Nuggets head coaching job, is more important than keeping the Lakers out of the postseason.
Some games, the Nuggets’ freakish athleticism, size and speed simply blows teams away. If the Utah Jazz would have had s great shooting night, those advantages might have been eliminated or countered, but at this point of the season, with the Nuggets so confident in who they are, their abilities and the matchup problems they create for certain teams, once they get going with runs (like the 8-0 run led by Andre Iguodala that killed off the game at the beginning of the third quarter), it’s very hard to catch them.
For once, offensive rebounding wasn’t even an issue – the Nuggets had such an easy time finding their way into the paint, they shot 56.2% from the field, as Kenneth Faried (19 points) and others simply found themselves open again and again. Even Evan Fournier, getting some garbage time minutes, clocked an impressive 18 points off the bench, showing an example of just how deep the Nuggets are, hoping that factor plays a major role in the ending of the regular season.