NBA Basketball

Nuggets attempt to change tune when playing at Jazz

(Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Denver Nuggets haven't experienced much fun in Salt Lake City in recent seasons.

The red-hot Nuggets aim to change their luck on Wednesday when they look to halt a seven-game road losing streak against the Utah Jazz.

Denver has dropped those seven meetings by an average of 14 points and was held below 90 points in five of the setbacks.

But the Nuggets enter the latest encounter with 10 wins in their past 13 games and fresh off blowout victories over the lowly Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers by an average of 26 points.

Denver also arrives with the second-best record (31-14) in the Western Conference. Also significant in coach Michael Malone's eyes is that the Nuggets are in first place in the Northwest Division.

"The No. 1 goal that we have is to find a way to get better every single day," Malone told the Denver Post. "And we feel if we do that, then that'll take care of everything else.

"And we talk about winning our division. Right now, we're 6-0 in our division."

The Jazz (26-22) are in fourth place in the Northwest and stand 6 1/2 games behind the Nuggets.

Utah had its season-best six-game winning streak snapped on Monday when it suffered a 109-104 home loss against the Portland Trail Blazers.

The recent strong play by the Jazz has been fueled by star guard Donovan Mitchell, who scored 36 points in the loss to Portland.

Mitchell has scored more than 20 points in each of the past nine games and is averaging 29.8 points during the stretch. But he was disappointed with Monday's showing that saw Utah trailing by 12 late in the contest before closing with a 10-3 run.

"We can't wait till the fourth quarter to kind of fight and come back," Mitchell told reporters afterward. "We've got to be locked in from the beginning."

Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio (hamstring) returned from a six-game absence and figures to get more playing time against Denver. He was on a minutes restriction against Portland when he scored 12 points in just 14 minutes.

"You've got to trust the doctors," Rubio told reporters.

"They're (some) of the best in the business. I want to be able to see the big picture. Sometimes it's frustrating. I wish I would have played more minutes. But I know this is a marathon. It's not just (Monday). It's a long season and I have to take care of my body."

Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray scored 26 points in Saturday's 124-102 win over Cleveland and is averaging 24 points during the past four games. Murray has made 15 of 25 from 3-point range over the past three contests.

"Just making shots and playing team basketball and moving the ball," Murray told reporters of his hot stretch.

Standout Nuggets center Nikola Jokic had 19 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds against the Cavaliers for his third triple-double in the past seven games.

Jokic recorded a season-high 16 assists in a 103-88 home win over Utah on Nov. 3. Denver outscored the Jazz 35-15 in the fourth quarter in that contest.

--Field Level Media

Updated January 23, 2019

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1 24 William Byron 3
2 22 Joey Logano 10
3 88 Alex Bowman 2
4 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr 7
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1 20 Spencer Boyd 25
2 4 Todd Gilliland 6
3 51 Riley Herbst 7
4 24 Brett Moffitt 8
5 52 Stewart Friesen 10
6 16 Austin Hill 13
7 17 Tyler Ankrum 2
8 88 Matt Crafton 1
9 2 Sheldon Creed 5