Venue: EnergySolutions Arena
The Denver Nuggets are pretty happy since trading their top star. There's not much for the Utah Jazz to be pleased about since making a similar deal.
Coming off their most lopsided win of the season, the Nuggets look to continue their surge as the spiraling Jazz attempt to avoid their longest home losing streak in almost 29 years Thursday night.
Denver (36-26) has won four of five since making a three-team, 13-player deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to New York on Feb. 22, leaving the Nuggets without their marquee player and leading scorer at 25.2 points per game.
They're averaging 107.0 points since the move, and may have made their biggest statement that they're doing just fine without the four-time All-Star on Wednesday by pounding Charlotte 120-80.
Denver, second in the Northwest Division, 1 1/2 games behind Oklahoma City, is crediting an improved attitude and teamwork, which was on display Wednesday when the team collected a season-high 34 assists. Seven players scored in double-digits as Wilson Chandler had a team-high 16 points.
"We're playing together and we're winning right now," said guard Ty Lawson, who had 14 points and 10 assists. "That's fun for everybody. There's no sticky hands out there. We're passing the ball, getting everybody involved. It feels a lot better when everybody is happy. The bigs are happy. The wings are happy. Everybody is touching the ball, and that's the way basketball should be played."
Utah isn't enjoying the same success since trading All-Star guard Deron Williams to New Jersey one day after the Nuggets moved Anthony.
The Jazz have dropped three of four while allowing an average of 107.3 points. That's part of a 5-16 stretch that includes a season-high six consecutive losses at EnergySolutions Arena, their longest at home since a franchise-record 12-game slide from Feb. 15-March 29, 1982.
Despite those struggles, Utah is tied with Phoenix for ninth in the West, 1 1/2 games back of eighth-place Memphis for the final playoff position.
The Jazz's home losing streak reached six Monday, as they fell 107-102 to Boston. Encouraged by the near upset, they signed coach Ty Corbin to a multiyear contract Wednesday, less than a month after he succeeded Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan.
Corbin served as an assistant under Sloan since 2004-05, and the organization favored getting a deal done now.
"We don't believe in putting a coach in that position," CEO Randy Rigby said. "He really is the right man."
Al Jefferson had 28 points and a season-high 19 rebounds as he continues to emerge as an offensive force. The forward-center is averaging 27.2 points and 11.0 boards over the last six games, but the Jazz have lost five.
Jefferson had 28 points with 10 rebounds in a 113-106 win at Denver on Feb. 4.
Devin Harris, who had 19 points against the Celtics, is also providing a bright spot for Utah, averaging 16.7 points and 7.3 assists in three games since being acquired with rookie forward Derrick Favors, two first-round picks and cash from the Nets.
Chandler is averaging 16.8 points in four games since Denver got him in the package from the Knicks.
The forward is one of five Nuggets to score at least 20 points in a game since the trade, but none have reached that over the last two games - both wins.
"I know the other team doesn't know how we're going to score because I don't know how we're going to score. But we do score. Nice problem," coach George Karl said.
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