Nuggets rout Jazz in Northwest Division battleJan 26, 2009 - 5:18 AM By Derek Nagy PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
DENVER (Ticker) -- The Denver Nuggets made no secret of the fact they considered their game with the Utah Jazz a statement game. Then, the Nuggets made a statement.
Nene matched his career high with 28 points on a perfect 12-of-12 shooting effort while J.R. Smith and Chauncey Billups each scored 22, leading the Nuggets to a convincing 117-97 victory over the Jazz on Sunday night.
Nene's shooting night tied Denver's team record, set by Bobby Jones on March 15, 1978, also a 12-of-12 effort.
"I just tried to finish hard and was very surprised to hear after the game that I was 12-for-12 and with the record," Nene said. "I tried to keep it simple and am very glad to get an important victory against Utah, a strong team."
Five different players scored in double figures as Denver won for the ninth time in its last 12 games. Denver (29-15) cemented its firm lead over Utah (25-20) in the Northwest Division standings.
"I think every time we play this team, like Portland and teams that we are going to have to face down the road that are in our division, it's going to be a playoff-type atmosphere that calls for playoff-type focus and intensity, and it was tonight," Billups said.
The Nuggets fell behind just once in the game at 9-8 early in the first quarter but then went on a 17-7 run to open up a 25-16 lead and never trailed again.
"Defensively, I thought we fixed the holes we were having," Nuggets head coach George Karl said. "As the game went on we made them settle for jump shots.
"We have been scoring a lot of points, and I think it's been because our defense has been solid. We've been getting a lot of points because of our defense."
The Nuggets had lost four consecutive games to the Jazz, who along with Portland figure to be Denver's main competition for the Northwest Division title. But the rested Nuggets were ready for this one.
"It was a great game for us. We had a great week, had three or four great practices to work on some things and we haven't had that opportunity since I've been here," Billups said.
Denver, which hadn't played since a 118-99 win over Sacramento last Tuesday, led by as many as 20 points in the third quarter to improve to 18-6 at home on the season. Denver's 18 home wins are the second most in the Western Conference.
"We knew they were going to have a lot of energy, we just couldn't match them tonight," Williams said. "It's very disappointing, to come out here against a division rival, a team we can pick up a full game on and to kind of blow it is definitely tough to swallow."
Utah, which lost to Cleveland at home Saturday night, suffered its third consecutive loss for the second time this season. The Jazz also lost three straight from November 11-15.
"They just took it right to us. They did a great job defensively and took us out of a lot of the stuff we tried to do. They never gave us an easy basket all night," Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan said.
Williams had 15 points and 10 assists for Utah, which fell to 8-15 on the road and continued to play without forward Carlos Boozer (quadriceps, left knee). Forward Andrei Kirilenko (right ankle) also sat out.
DENVER 117 FINAL
Jan 25 10:34 PM
DENVER 91 END, 3RD QTR
Jan 25 9:58 PM
DENVER 60 HALFTIME
Jan 25 9:10 PM
DENVER 35 END, 1ST QTR
Jan 25 8:40 PM
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