Jazz beat Nuggets 108-83
AP Sports Writer
SALT LAKE CITY — George Hill scored 22 points in his return from an eight-game absence and the Utah Jazz beat the Denver Nuggets 108-83 on Wednesday night to break a four-game losing streak.
Hill had tape covering the strained thumb on his shooting hand and the nine-year veteran showed no signs of rust.
Rudy Gobert posted his eighth double-double of the season with 19 points and 13 rebounds, while Gordon Hayward added 22 points and seven assists.
Rookie Jamal Murray led the Nuggets with 23 points off the bench. Kenneth Faried finished with eight points and 10 rebounds.
The Jazz put away the game with a 17-3 run to start the third quarter to take a 70-50 lead, punctuated by Hill’s 3-pointer from the right corner. Utah shot 49.4 percent and the Nuggets struggled to just 31.5 percent.
Utah led just 53-47 at halftime after jumping out to a 19-3 lead to open the game. The Jazz started 6 of 8 on 3-pointers but then missed their next 10.
The Nuggets climbed back into the game with a heavy dose of Faried and a 16-2 stretch to tie the game at 45.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone explained how his offense emphasizes back-cuts, especially against teams like the Jazz.
“We have guys that are willing and capable playmakers,” Malone said. “… It’s something we really emphasize, whether it’s practice, shootaround, film sessions. The Utah Jazz shrink the floor. They collapse. When they do, sometimes they get caught ball-watching.
Nuggets: Danilo Gallinari missed his first game of the season with right knee soreness. … Mike Miller missed his fourth consecutive game due to personal reasons. … Wednesday was the third game in four days.
Jazz: Joe Johnson played despite dealing with an illness. … Boris Diaw had his best game as a Jazz player with 11 points, three rebounds and three assists.
BACK ON THE COURT
Hill averaged 20.4 points and 4.9 assists in the first seven games of the season and fit in with the Jazz immediately. The team is 3-5 without him.
“He and I know and knew each other pretty well,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “So some of the conversation that we had, I’d like to think framed what the fit would be and I think that’s something he was truly excited about. When you have that fit, it generally has a way of accelerating a player’s comfort level.”
“So any time your man turns the head, you should be cutting to the basket. And if you don’t get it, you’re probably generating a wide open shot for a teammate behind you.”
Nuggets: Denver hosts Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday. It will be the first meeting between the teams this season.
Jazz: Utah hosts the Hawks on Friday, facing Dwight Howard in an Atlanta jersey for the first time.
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