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Jazz's offense erupts against Nuggets by embracing full potential

Published March 24, 2012 2:37 pm

NBA • The Jazz aren't limited to relying on Jefferson and Millsap.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Jazz don't turn into Twitter trending topics too often.

But Utah lit up the 140-character world Friday, thanks to one of the Jazz's best offensive performances of the season.

An offense that's become only more balanced, more fluid and harder to defend since the All-Star break broke through EnergySolutions Arena's ceiling during a 121-102 scorcher against the Denver Nuggets.

By the early fourth quarter, all five Utah starters — Devin Harris, Gordon Hayward, C.J. Miles, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson — had hit double figures in scoring.

The Jazz were shooting 60 percent (36 of 60) from the field and 45.5 percent (5 of 11) behind the 3-point line and had reached the free-throw line 24 times.

It was the type of offensive barrage normally associated with run-and-gun teams such as the Nuggets. But Friday belonged to Utah. And by the time the Jazz's blitz was complete, Harris was in Twitter's top 10, while everyone from Alec Burks and Derrick Favors to DeMarre Carroll had made the net dance.

"Ball movement," Miles said. "Everyone's making extra passes, guys getting open looks."

For the first 40-plus games of the 2011-12 campaign, Utah's offense was often a two-man show: all Jefferson and Millsap. Since the Jazz unleashed their season-high six-game winning streak, Utah's embraced its true offensive potential.

Slashers are attacking, shooters are firing, and with opponents having to constantly respect Jefferson and Millsap inside, the Jazz are playing pick-your-poison.

That's all the Nuggets could do Friday. And they didn't even do that well.

Harris continued his resurgence, Hayward was at his aggressive best, Jefferson and Millsap worked their normal wonders, and Miles found a touch that had eluded him since moving into the starting lineup.

With the Jazz's defense again flexing its muscles, Utah displayed a one-two punch that was for real. A team that was on the verge of diving downward immediately after the All-Star break suddenly is hotter than ever.

Need proof? Just ask the Nuggets.

bsmith@sltrib.com

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