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Nuggets hand Jazz rare home loss, help Lakers

The SportsXchange

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Denver Nuggets helped their own cause and did the Los Angeles Lakers a little favor during their brief visit to Utah on Wednesday night.

Danilo Gallinari scored 21 points, and the Nuggets shot 56.2 percent while snapping the Utah Jazz's five-game winning streak in a convincing 113-96 win at EnergySolutions Arena.

The loss dropped the Jazz to 39-37, a half-game behind the idle Lakers (39-36) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Seven Nuggets hit double figures in scoring, including Kenneth Faried (19 points) and Evan Fournier (18). Denver improved to 51-24, the third-best record in the West, with the rare blowout win in Utah.

"I think it is a solid win for us in a race that is probably going to go down to the last week," said Denver coach George Karl, whose team has a half-game lead over Memphis and a two-game edge against the Clippers in playoff positioning for the 3-5 spots.

"In a way, I hate helping the Lakers, but now maybe they can help us. They have Memphis and the Clippers the next two games."

Utah's Gordon Hayward scored 18 points while Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap each contributed 16, but the Jazz saw their season-high winning streak end.

"We just won five games in a row. I hope you guys weren't expecting us to go 11-0," Jazz point guard Mo Williams said. "That'd be great, but at the same time we're not going to win every game. You want to put your best effort out there. You're playing against a good basketball team. ... They just got the better of us."

Denver, playing without injured Ty Lawson (foot), took a five-point lead into halftime.

The Nuggets burst out of the locker room with an 8-0 run, including a 3-pointer and dunk from Andre Iguodala, to go ahead 64-51 at the 8:27 mark of the third quarter.

Utah, which missed its first five shots of the second half, wasn't able to get its deficit under double digits the rest of the way.

Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin was upset his team settled for jump shots and made it easy for Denver to play its preferred fast-paced style.

"We talked about who this team was and how they play. One of the keys to the game was transition back side. I thought we did a terrible job," Corbin said. "I thought they got some especially (easy baskets) in the third quarter by driving by guys. They attack the basket off the dribble."

Denver scored 57 second-half points and went ahead by as many as 21 points en route to its 17th win in its last 19 outings.

Former Jazz big man Kosta Koufos only scored two points, but he had 13 of Denver's 42 rebounds. The Jazz only had 33 boards and were outscored 58-38 inside the paint.

"It was a big win knowing that it was a tough road game and that Utah is fighting for a playoff spot," Denver guard Andre Miller said. "We came out and played good, solid basketball for 48 minutes."

Utah shot 46.4 percent and scored under 100 points for the first time in seven games. The Jazz only had 45 second-half points.

Utah's backcourt struggled in this one after several big games in a row.

Williams hit just two of 12 shots for four points, while shooting guard Randy Foye had seven points on 2-of-9 shooting.

Miller (13 points) and Iguodala (10 points) each had six assists for Denver.

NOTES: Karl on crafty 37-year-old Miller: "You don't even get to see when he takes the four worst players in the gym and beats the five best players and talks trash." ... Miller led nearby University of Utah to the NCAA championship game 15 years ago. The Utes held a 10-point second-half lead before losing to Kentucky 78-69. ... D-League call-up Jerel McNeal dressed for the first time since signing a 10-day contract for the Jazz a week ago Wednesday. However, he didn't play. ... Utah was without backups Enes Kanter (shoulder) and Kevin Murphy (skin infection). The Jazz still haven't given a timetable for Kanter's return, but Jefferson said he's impressed with the 20-year-old's demeanor. "My man, I've never seen a guy who got hurt and be just in a positive attitude and happy," Jefferson said. "You'd think he's still the same guy and not even hurt."
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