SALT LAKE CITY – Al Jefferson had 23 points and eight rebounds, Gordon Hayward chipped in 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, and the Utah Jazz beat the Denver Nuggets 121-102 on Friday night.
All five starters reached double figures as the Jazz (26-22) notched their sixth straight win. Paul Millsap had 14 points and C.J. Miles scored 12. Devin Harris added 13 points and nine assists for Utah.
Alec Burks led a strong bench contribution with 15 points. Derrick Favors chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds.
Al Harrington scored 20 points off the bench for Denver (26-22), while Arron Afflalo added 14 points before a third-quarter ejection. Kenneth Faried added 16 points, Andre Miller chipped in 14 and Wilson Chandler had 13 for the Nuggets.
Utah outmuscled Denver around the basket. The Jazz had 50 points in the paint and outrebounded the Nuggets 34-29. The Jazz shot a blistering 59 percent from the field and 47 percent from 3-point range.
It helped the Jazz break open a close game early in the third quarter. Millsap drained two consecutive baskets to touch off a 22-3 run that gave the Jazz a 91-64 lead with 2:36 left in the third. He also capped the decisive spurt with a layup.
The Jazz completely stifled the Nuggets defensively during their run. Denver missed eight straight shots, with Miles getting two blocks. The Nuggets melted down mentally in that stretch and lost starting shooting guard Afflalo to an ejection after he threw an elbow into Hayward's face and was called for a flagrant foul.
Both teams did a good job of getting to the rim early in the first quarter. Four of the first five baskets in the game were dunks. By the end of the quarter, the Jazz had scored 16 points in the paint while the Nuggets tallied 14.
They continued to trade baskets well into the second quarter. Denver appeared to finally gain the upper hand with a 10-3 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Harrington, for a 48-43 lead. The Jazz ripped off 10 straight points and took a 53-48 lead on a floater from Jefferson with 3:41 left before halftime.
It was part of a larger 20-4 run that gave the Jazz a 63-52 lead with under a minute remaining. Harris capped the run with a pair of 3-pointers that helped Utah go into the locker room shooting 62 percent through the first two quarters.