Last night, the Jazz evened up their series against the Nuggets despite injuries to everyone who lives in Utah. KD's had his turn, now the Internet chimes in...
ProBasketballTalk: "Deron Williams was an absolute monster for the Jazz. He finished with 33 points and 14 assists, and hurt the Nuggets from every spot on the floor. When he put the ball on the floor, he got to the hoop or drew the foul, going to the line a total of 18 times. When the Nuggets gave him space, Williams stepped back and stroked the outside shot. Williams was the difference in the game on Monday night.
Boozer and Milsap also had plenty of success against Denver, scoring a combined 38 points on only 25 attempts from the field. The Jazz looked for them early in the clock, and were often able to set them up with home-run passes for layups or free throws before the Denver defense was able to react. When the Nuggets did get between Boozer and the basket, he was able to turn around and drain his patented shoulder-mounted fadeaway. They both needed to step up with Kirilenko and Okur out, and that's exactly what they did."
FanHouse: "The next question for the Nuggets, obviously, is whether the team can reclaim the home court advantage by winning one of the next two games in Utah, which is known as one of the toughest road environments in the entire league. It's true that Denver is more talented and at full strength, while Utah is struggling to get by without two of its top five players. But coaching in this series is something that can't be understated.
Adrian Dantley is doing what he can in George Karl's absence, but he might be in over is head trying to push all the right buttons with this Nuggets team. Meanwhile, Jerry Sloan is just doing what he's done for the past 20 years in Utah. He runs an extremely tight ship and demands maximum effort and execution from a roster built specifically to play his physical yet skilled brand of basketball."
SLC Dunk: "The game wasn't perfect, and the refs made sure that it wasn't pretty -- but the 114-111 win (and more importantly, series tie at 1-1) is something I will gladly take. A part of all of us died on the inside when Memo went down in Game 1. I did not like this match-up going into the series, especially how the Jazz played against the Nuggets in the regular season -- but the Jazz sucked it up, did not wallow in self-pity -- and managed to get a playoff road win, on the home court of one of the BEST home teams in the NBA. (And, lest the media forget to mention, the Jazz aren't a good road team) To do so without two starters (and really poor depth, on paper), makes this a pretty sweet win."
TrueHoop: "Williams had a series of offensive imperatives on Monday night, and he succeeded at every one of them. First, he attacked Denver off the dribble every chance he got, looking for either a seam to the basket, or contact against a collapsing Nugget defender. Williams made his way to the stripe for 18 attempts, draining 16. Second, Williams engaged Boozer -- and occasionally Paul Millsap(notes) -- with their patented pick-and-roll. Finally, if Williams was unable to find a path to the rim or his post option was covered, he empowered weak side threats like Kyle Korver(notes) and C.J. Miles(notes) by executing the Jazz's offensive system to perfection. Korver scored 13 points, while Miles had another solid offensive performance with 17 points."
Daily Dime: "Leading the way were supposed leaders Chauncey Billups(notes) and Carmelo Anthony(notes). In a quarter when Denver was dominant in the paint -- 8-for-10 on layups and dunks in the fourth quarter alone -- Billups took an unnecessary 3 with the Nuggets ahead 106-105, and Denver would never lead again. Billups also committed an offensive foul when he drove out of control to the basket with the Nuggets down 108-107 with only 31 seconds left.
That foul was far less egregious than the mind-numbingly stupefying foul Anthony committed with 25 seconds remaining as he rode C.J. Miles up the sideline in the backcourt and finally reached in across Miles' body just for good measure to ensure a call had to be made. The sad thing is Carmelo has committed that foul over and over throughout his career. He gets in his mind that he wants to play aggressive defense, and next thing you know he fouls his man 45 feet from the basket. The difference is, this time it was near the end of a tight playoff game, and to make things worse, it was his sixth foul. It was actually not the only unnecessary foul Melo committed in the closing seconds of the contest. Anthony committed his fifth foul -- and his fourth offensive foul of the game -- with 77 seconds remaining when he flung his elbow at Wesley Matthews(notes) and knocked him down after he had already beaten him with his first step.
The biggest knock on the Nuggets has always been that they are knuckleheads. In the past, I have argued that this reputation is overblown, but after seeing the two "team leaders" blow another season-threatening game, I have run out of ammunition."
But The Game is On: "This series has the feeling of a classic with the way these two teams play. Denver is lazy sometimes and great at others while the Jazz always bring it despite being injured all over. I'd say advantage Jazz at this point as they have stolen home court. Carmelo and Deron are going to trade huge games until this series is over. Melo had his huge Game 1 and Williams dominated this contest with hot shooting and by setting the pace. It'll be interesting to see what happens next."
SLAM: "Sure, Utah made some tough shots, but Denver just couldn't sustain the urgency that carried them for so long last season. Even though they had a huge personnel advantage on the Jazz, the Jazz had a heart advantage. Denver seemed like they felt they could flip a switch and turn on the effort, but they couldn't summon it when it mattered. I don't know if it's because George Karl is gone or what, but the Nuggets just didn't seem to have any juice tonight. And if there's one team in the Playoffs you don't want to get home court advantage, it's Utah. Denver just handed it back to them tonight."