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Hayward scores 34 as Jazz upend Nuggets

Apr 14, 2011 - 6:34 AM Salt Lake City, UT (Sports Network) - Gordon Hayward posted a career-high 34 points as Utah downed Denver, 107-103, in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Devin Harris added 21 points and six assists for the Jazz (39-43), who capped their tumultuous season with two straight wins. Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors notched 12 points apiece.

Utah began the season 15-5 and failed to qualify for the postseason, seeing long-time head coach Jerry Sloan abruptly resign on February 10.

The most encouraging thing about it is, you know, we won the game, but the tremendous support from our fans," said Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin. "We're finishing this season off, not going to the playoffs, and the ovation they gave the guys at the end was tremendous and we really appreciate what they give us."

Wilson Chandler turned in 27 points for the Nuggets (50-32), whose two-game win streak was halted. Al Harrington posted 15 points in the loss.

Denver will begin the postseason as the fifth seed in the Western Conference, and is set to take on four-seed and Northwest Division champion Oklahoma City. The series starts Sunday at 9:30 p.m. (et) in Oklahoma City.

"I didn't hear the news until about five minutes ago so I was probably more pissed off at losing the game than I was thinking about Oklahoma City," admitted Denver head coach George Karl. "I've always thought it would be Oklahoma City. So we get who we thought we'd get about two weeks ago."

Al Jefferson hit a turnaround jumper with 35.5 seconds left to give Utah a two-point lead at 105-103, then J.R. Smith was called for charging on the next possession.

Hayward calmly sank two from the line with 8.8 remaining to provide a four- point margin and Chandler's desperation trey fell short at the buzzer.

Chandler scored 12 points in the opening quarter as Denver took a 31-29 edge after one. A Kosta Koufos putback inside of three minutes left in the half had the Nuggets ahead 56-49, but Harris finished off a brief run with a lay-in to get the Jazz within 61-58 at the break.

Hayward's dunk inside three minutes to play in the third period sent Utah up 81-71 but the visitors shrunk their deficit to 82-78 heading to the fourth.

A trey from Hayward put the Jazz ahead 91-85 with 8:29 remaining, but the Nuggets surged ahead 103-99 with 2:10 to go after Harrington connected from long distance.

Harris hit a bucket then Hayward made two from the line with 1:08 remaining to draw even.

Game Notes

The clubs split the four-game season series, with each team winning once at home and once on the road...Nuggets guard Ty Lawson left the game in the second quarter after spraining his left ankle and did not return...He posted six points and three assists before departing...Jefferson had 17 points and 10 rebounds...Koufos wound up with 14 points and six boards.