Rudy Gobert had 23 points and 16 rebounds and Donovan Mitchell added 22 points to lead the Utah Jazz to a 122-110 win over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night in a game where Nikola Jokic left with a knee injury.
The reigning NBA MVP had 24 points in just 15 first-half minutes before he got hurt.
Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic each contributed 15 for the Jazz, who moved to 3-0 on the season.
Two minutes before halftime, Jokic banged knees with Gobert and stayed down holding his right leg. He eventually got up with assistance and limped to the locker room. He will be examined again, but initial injury report was a knee contusion.
Aaron Gordon scored 20 points and Monte Morris had 19 for the Nuggets, who dropped to 2-2. After period of lights-out shooting, Denver went 7-for-19 from the field in the fourth quarter.
Denver took its last lead at 93-91 before Gobert fueled Utah’s decisive move. His free throws finished an 11-2 run and the Jazz stayed in front the rest of the way.
The game had high emotion uncharacteristic for an early-season encounter. It boiled over with 4:57 remaining when Hassan Whiteside and JaMychal Green started pushing, bumping and jawing – but not throwing punches -- before teammates and security separated the pair.
Both were assessed technical fouls and ejected from the game.
The two teams have recent history of shootouts, including a memorable series in The NBA Playoff bubble in 2020. This had all the same traits until the Nuggets ran out of gas.
The Nuggets dropped a game to Cleveland, 99-87, on Monday night.
The Jazz, who had the best record in the regular season last season, are working with the same primary group of players and looked dominant for most of the first two games. But the Nuggets carved the Utah defense with ball movement, advantages on Jazz switches, and pinpoint shooting.
Gordon and Jokic combined to make their first 11 field goal attempts of the game but the Nuggets devolved into a series of ineffective one-on-one isolations down the stretch while the Jazz were getting layups and free throws on the other end.
Clarkson capped a 14-0 Jazz run with a 3-pointer to put Utah up 42-31 while keeping the Nuggets scoreless for more than four minutes — the only real quiet period for Denver’s high-powered offense.
Nuggets: Gordon was a force offensively but needed to sit after getting his fourth foul in the third quarter. ... The Nuggets had 62 turnovers in their first three games, but had only 13 against Utah. ... Barton scored 16 points in the third quarter.
Jazz: Utah successfully challenge a blocking foul call on Mitchell in third quarter. ... Mitchell was made 1 of 9 from beyond the 3-point line. ... Gobert made 8 of 10 free throws after making just one of his first six.
Nuggets: Host the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.
Jazz: Visit the Houston Rockets on Thursday.