The longest home losing streak for the Utah Jazz since 1982 continued in cruel and dramatic fashion as the Denver Nuggets squeaked out a 103-101 win.
Aaron Afflalo, battling a sore ankle coming in to the game, made several key plays on both ends of the floor and appeared to seal a Denver win when he nailed a dagger three-pointer to put the Nuggets up four with 11.4 seconds to play.
However, through a series of events which can only be described as bizarre, typical of the Jazz organization of late, Denver missed free throws, 10 total in the game and Devin Harris hit his fourth three-point FG with 1.4 seconds to make it a two point game.
Utah somehow had a chance to steal a win when Andre Kirilenko stole the inbound pass from Kenyon Martin, but he then fumbled the ball away as the buzzer sounded.
In what has become a tough and rugged Northwest Division battle, albeit this the first time vs each other in the post Melo/DWill era's, it was the Nuggets who jumped out to a 7-0 lead. They kept that lead 'till half leading 58-51, despite several runs by the Jazz.
Utah outscored the Nuggets 25-16 in the third quarter and appeared to have momentum heading into the fourth, behind a raucous home crowd, by turning a seven point halftime deficit into a two point lead.
Ty Lawson wreaked havoc among Jazz defenders, all part of a 23 pt/6 reb/5 ast (1TO) extraordinary effort. Paul Millsap missed a sure lay-up that he tried to dunk, Denver grabbed 12 offensive rebounds something Utah has given up all year, Afflalo made several key plays down the stretch and the Jazz were outscored 18-11 in the final five minutes, which led to their demise.
Will the Jazz Make the Playoffs?
CJ Miles led the Jazz with 22 pts and kept Utah in the game in the second quarter, nice to see you again CJ ,it's been awhile; Devin Harris added 21 pts/9 ast w/only 1TO; Big Al Jefferson had 19 pts/10 reb/6 blk; AK 12 pts/5 ast, 3blk, 5TO; and Millsap 10 pts/8 reb/2 stl as all five starters scored in double digits.
On the flip side the Jazz had 15 turnovers, four costly ones coming on key possessions in the last three minutes, a disturbing trend, that ultimately cost Utah the game.
You cannot turnover the ball late in games and win in the NBA.
Gordon Hayward sparked the Jazz with six points in five first half minutes, but got rookied in the second half, with several questionable calls and minus Big Derrick Favors aka the Big Mamba Jamba (flu) and his instant offense of dunks off the bench, the new look Jazz fell to 1-6 under Coach Tyrone Corbin.
Denver, on the other hand, improved to 5-1 since shipping their Melodrama to the Big Apple, they were without Danilo Galanari
While the Nuggets have thrived since finally trading their All-Star, the Jazz have slumped since stunningly trading theirs.
What will become of this Northwest Division rivalry post Melo/Deron? Jazz fans can your team make up the two games to grab the eight spot? Do you want them to or do you want the second lottery pick?
The Jazz have lost four of five since they traded Olympic Gold Medalist point guard Deron Williams to New Jersey; Utah dropped two games behind Memphis for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
Denver has won five of six in the post Melodrama era and currently reside in the fifth spot, one game ahead of Portland and second behind OKC, who has an injured Kevin Durrant.