Hayward scores 26 as Jazz hold on for 97-88 win over Nuggets



SALT LAKE CITY | Utah coach Quin Snyder didn’t want his young team to fret over a losing streak, and that’s not a concern anymore.

Gordon Hayward scored 26 points and the Jazz beat the Denver Nuggets 97-88 on Friday night to snap a season-high, four-game skid.

“This has been a tough stretch for us,” Hayward said. “A lot of games, not many nights. For us to kind of gut through this one and get the win says a lot about us as a team. Just proud of us, honestly. … I think we can build off this one.”

Trey Burke added 13 off the bench for the Jazz (11-14) and Trevor Booker finished with 12.

Denver (11-15) had its season-best, four-game win streak snapped.

Booker and Hayward made consecutive layups after Jameer Nelson’s layup tied the game at 86. Booker later added a 3-pointer from the right corner off an extra pass from Hayward with 2:16 left to give the Jazz a five-point lead that they never relinquished.

“I feel like the basketball gods rewarded us for that, making the right play,” Hayward said. “Soon as he shot, I knew it was in.”

Reserve Will Barton scored 16 points and Nelson added 15 points, six assists and five rebounds. Joffrey Lauvergne added 12 points and 13 rebounds for Denver, while Danilo Gallinari managed just 11 points on 3-for-10 shooting.

“They closed the game on a 20-8 run. Too many turnovers down the stretch, poor offensive possessions and we didn’t get the stops that we needed,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “Simple as that. So, give them all the credit.”

The Jazz led 53-49 at halftime thanks to balanced scoring throughout the lineup. Eight players scored at least four points, including 21 from the reserves in the first 24 minutes.

The Nuggets opened the third quarter by outscoring Utah 19-10 to take a five-point lead. The Jazz answered with a 12-5 run to take a 77-73 advantage into the fourth quarter.

“(Hayward) really played good defense,” Snyder said. “When he’s locked in defensively, I think it just makes him more aggressive on offense. The thing that I liked is that he made the right play.”


Nuggets: Denver is 11-3 when scoring 100 or more points and 0-12 when scoring less than 100. … The Nuggets shot 6 for 28 from behind the arc and 39.2 percent from the field. … Denver outscored the Jazz 42-32 in the paint.

Jazz: Joe Ingles returned to the lineup after having his wisdom teeth removed earlier this week. … The Jazz are 1-11 when allowing 100-plus points and 9-2 when allowing less than 100.


The Jazz reinserted Raul Neto and Trey Lyles in the starting lineup. Snyder had started with three wings in two of the previous three games and center Jeff Withey started Wednesday. “You want continuity in your lineup to the extent that most of us would agree that predictability, in some sense, gives guys a comfort level,” Snyder said. “At the same time, it’s important to look at matchups, particularly for us right now, just the way our roster is composed. With an injury (to Rudy Gobert) it really has a domino effect.”


Nuggets second-year guard Gary Harris came into the game averaging 12.3 points and shooting 48.4 percent in his last three games since returning from a concussion, including a career-high 21 Monday. He scored 12 Friday. “Gary was out for however many games with a concussion and when he came back I felt like Michael Jordan was coming back,” Malone said. “Here was a guy that was our best two-way player. He was shooting very efficiently and guarding the opposing teams’ best opposing player. Gary’s been terrific.”


“Teams make runs and they made theirs when it counted,” Barton said. “Just give them credit, they outplayed us at the end. It was a tough game.”


The Nuggets host the Pelicans on Sunday.

The Jazz host the Suns on Monday.