The Denver Nuggets lost their season opener in Salt Lake City to the Utah Jazz, 106-96, after leading by as many as 15 points in the second half.
The Denver Nuggets led for most of the game during their 2017-18 season opener against the Utah Jazz, but couldn’t find a rhythm offensively late in the third quarter. These troubles carried into the final frame, where they managed to score only 13 points. Utah pushed its own lead to double digits with a 25-4 run highlighted by Alec Burks‘ eight points scored in just over a minute of game time.
Denver stopped hitting the difficult shots they hit in the first half, and struggled to create easy opportunities for themselves against one of the NBA’s top defenses in Utah. Taking care of the basketball was a problem for the Nuggets as well, who finished with 21 turnovers on the night, including 10 in the fourth quarter.
There were some bright spots, however. The Paul Millsap–Nikola Jokic frontcourt made its debut with their offensive games complementing each other as smoothly as people thought. Millsap finished with 19 points and six rebounds on the night. Jokic struggled to score against Rudy Gobert as he ended up with seven points, but led the team with his eight assists and 12 rebounds.
Will Barton led all Nuggets in scoring with 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting off the bench, with 21 of his points coming in the first half. Gary Harris was third in the team, finishing with 14 points on an efficient 5-of-7 mark from the field. We’d expect to see an increase in his field goal attempts, especially considering the contract extension he recently signed with the Nuggets.
These are the three biggest takeaways from opening night.