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NBA Playoff Recap - West First Round, Game 4

(5) Utah 117, (4) Denver 106 - Jazz lead series, 3-1


If the Denver Nuggets do not figure out a way to stop Utah’s power forward twosome, they will fail to move past the first round for the seventh time in the past eight chances. 

Two nights after Paul Millsap scored 22 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in Utah’s Game 3 victory in Salt Lake City, Olympian Carlos Boozer returned to his star form. Boozer poured in 31 points, pulled down 13 rebounds, and dished 5 assists in Utah’s convincing 117-106 Game 4 win over Denver.  The Jazz now lead the Western Conference first round series 3 games to 1.

The Nuggets came out strong for the second straight game in Salt Lake, grabbing their second straight double-digit first-half lead in as many games.  Just as in Game 3, the Jazz were able to weather the storm and when the game settled down in the second quarter, Utah took charge.  Utah rookie Wesley Matthews hit a three from the corner early in the quarter to give the Jazz a 10-point lead.  Denver fought back, something it would continue to do all night.  The Nuggets went on a 7-0 run of their own.  In a microcosm of the entire evening, Utah responded with a 10-2 run of its own to push the lead back to eleven at halftime. 


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With many onlookers feeling a Denver run coming in the second half at EnergySolutions Arena, Utah’s C.J. Miles came out firing in the second half to put those fears to rest. Miles scored the first seven points of the half, and Utah promptly extended its lead to twenty with a Carlos Boozer score-and-foul midway through the third period.  Carmelo Anthony continued to struggle with Utah’s defensive pressure.  The Denver superstar finished with a game-high 9 turnovers.  Through three quarters it looked as if the Nuggets had already made their flight plans back to Denver.

That perception changed quickly.

Behind the talents of Chauncey Billups and especially Carmelo Anthony, the Nuggets cut into the Jazz lead during a frenzied stretch midway through the fourth stanza.  A Billups three with just under six minutes left cut the Utah lead to eight points.  Back-to-back threes from Anthony (who finished with 39 points) brought the Nuggets within seven near the three-minute mark of regulation.  That was as close as the Denver would get.


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The Jazz held off Denver down the stretch because they had just too much Carlos Boozer plus another typically stellar outing from All-Star point guard Deron Williams, who has made a great case for being the best point guard in the NBA during the past season.  Williams' 24 points and 13 assists were par for the course for the budding superstar, who had averaged 27 points and 13 assists for the series coming into Game 4.  Boozer’s monster game was a great comeback from his downtrodden Game 3 performance.



By: Zach Bloxham
Pro Basketball Fans Guest Writer

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