Jamal Murray tossed the ball at Michael Malone in mild disgust. Will Barton urged Nikola Jokic to keep scoring until he reached 50 points.
Jokic’s teammates wanted him to reach the mark much more than he did. He was just happy Denver ended Utah’s 11-game winning streak UFA.
“Hopefully, I’m going to score when we need it. It just a game,” Jokic said. “The main thing is just win the game. I’m going to score however much I need just to win the game.”
Jokic matched his career high with 47 points and the fast-starting Nuggets beat the Jazz 128-117 to end the NBA’s longest winning streak of the season.
Jokic was 17 for 26 from the field, hit all four of his 3-point attempts, made 9 of 10 free throws and had 12 rebounds and five assists. He scored 33 points in the first half.
With the game in hand he went to the bench, unconcerned he was three points from hitting 50.
“I told him a couple of minutes before go get 50 but you know him, he don’t care about that kind of stuff,” Barton said. “He’s just playing basketball, being aggressive, being who he is. We definitely wanted the big fella to get 5-0 tonight.”
Barton added 18 points, and Jamal Murray had 16 to help the Nuggets win for the sixth time in seven games.
Utah lost for the first time since Jan. 6 at New York. Bojan Bogdanovic led the Jazz with 29 points, and Donovan Mitchell had 13 in 31 minutes.
Denver hit all eight of its 3-point attempts and shot 80% in the first quarter. The Nuggets kept it going in the second, going 13 of 24 from the field. Finishing 15 of 17 from long range in the first half to take a 79-54 halftime lead.
“We didn’t play our best, that’s what hurts, especially the way we played the last two games against Dallas,” Mitchell said. “To have that performance and they come out and they shoot 15 of 17, that’s what hurts the most.”
The lead was 86-58 with 8:11 left in the third quarter when Utah made a big run. The Jazz hit eight 3-pointers and outscored Denver by 18 to get to 99-91.
“We cut the lead to single digits but you give yourself a difficult hill to climb and a small margin of error and you have to be almost perfect,” coach Quin Snyder said.
JaMychal Green had all nine of his points in the fourth quarter when the Nuggets got the lead back to 20.
“I’m oblivious. I have no idea at that point Nikola has 47,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “Jamal was kind of breaking my chops about that and I love the fact that he’s thinking about his teammate.”