Coach Brian Shaw didn’t have any trouble pinpointing the reason Denver’s five-game winning streak ended Monday night in Utah.
The Jazz shot 55.7 percent, including 8-for-18 from the 3-point line, and rolled to a 118-103 victory over the Nuggets at EnergySolutions Arena.
“Defense, for the most part, was nonexistent tonight,” Shaw said. “The first quarter, we gave up 35 points. Second quarter, we gave up 32. I think they scored the first five possessions to start the game.”
University of Colorado product Alec Burks scored a career-high 34 points for the Jazz, who led by as many as 24 points in the third quarter.
Utah played without Gordon Hayward, its leading scorer. He was sidelined with a hip flexor injury.
“One of the things we talked about was their best player being out,” Shaw said. “... All that does is give an opportunity for somebody else to come in and make a name for themselves. And Alec Burks — right on cue — came in and got his career high with the opportunity that he was given.”
The Nuggets slipped to 19-18 after losing for the first time since Jan. 1.
“We have to have a short memory in terms of putting this game behind us and getting into the next game,” Shaw said. “We have to learn from the mistakes we made [and] we made a ton of then tonight — letting the ball get in the middle and allowing them to penetrate the paint.”
If there was a bright spot for the Nuggets, it was center J.J. Hickson. He scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
“I was aggressive,” Hickson said. “I didn’t think too much about my moves. I was just playing basketball. The ball was going in and I stayed aggressive.”
Asked about Denver’s comeback in the fourth quarter, when it got as close as 109-98 with 3:28 remaining, Hickson said, “We’re not a team that’s going to quit, no matter how many points we’re down. This is NBA basketball. You can come back at any point in the game.”