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NBA Playoff Recap - West First Round, Game 6

(5) Utah 112, (4) Denver 106 – Jazz win series, 4-2


Wesley Matthews must have received the memo.  On the same day the Utah rookie was mysteriously left off the NBA All-Rookie Team, the youngster provided an amazing spark to catapult his squad into the second round of the NBA playoffs.  Matthews scored a career playoff-high 23 points, 13 of them coming from the free-throw line, while adding 5 rebounds and 4 assists. 

Utah used its raucous home crowd at EnergySolutions Arena to jump out to a double-digit lead early in the second quarter.  Unlikely contributor Ronnie Price scored on consecutive possessions to stretch the Utah lead to 13.  The Jazz stretched its lead to as many as 15 (50-35) midway through the second quarter. 

With Denver superstar Carmelo Anthony struggling from the field and the Nuggets having a difficult time defending Utah’s offensive sets, it looked as if Denver would go quietly into the offseason.  Enter an unlikely hero.  Reserve center Joey Graham, who entered the Denver rotation as a result of Nene’s Game 5 injury, scored 15 points in a span of four minutes to bring the Nuggets within two at halftime, 56-54. 


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The Nuggets continued their hot play to begin the second half.  Chauncey Billups scored eight straight points as Denver took a 64-56 lead with only two minutes elapsed in the third quarter.  Billups finished the evening with a game-high 30 points.  Utah responded with a run of its own to tie the ballgame at 64 on a Paul Millsap basket with 6:41 left in the third quarter.  The two teams, which tied for the Northwest Division title during the regular season, traded baskets for the remainder of the stanza.


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The fourth quarter belonged to the terrific Utah power forward combination of Carlos Boozer and Millsap.  Despite being undersized in the front court all series long, the duo owned the paint on both ends of the court.  Boozer finished the game with 22 points, 20 rebounds, and 5 assists.  His partner in crime, Millsap, finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 tremendous blocks.  With the Nuggets leading 89-87 midway through the fourth quarter, the Jazz scored on their next seven possessions.  Behind the heroics of Matthews, Millsap, Boozer, and All-Star Deron Williams, Utah took control of the action.  Utah extended its lead to 109-97 in the final few minutes and coasted home from that point onward.  The Nuggets lost their sixth straight road elimination game as the Utah road victory in Denver in Game 2 turned out to be the decisive moment in the series.



By: Matt Zemek
Pro Basketball Fans Guest Writer

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