Little Mac (Jazz) comes up short against 'Iron Mike' and his Nuggets

Missing most of their best players, the Jazz punched above their weight class at times on Tuesday.
Apr 9, 2024; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz center Omer Yurtseven (77) defends Denver Nuggets
Apr 9, 2024; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz center Omer Yurtseven (77) defends Denver Nuggets / Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

For anyone who played the Nintendo game "Punch Out" or one of its variants back in the day, Tuesday night must have felt familiar. The Utah Jazz, the 'Little Mac' of the night's matchup, were up against the Denver Nuggets, the defending champions and a top-ranked contender, in the likes of Iron Mike Tyson back in the late 1980s.

And the Jazz were even more 'Little Mac' than they have been lately, missing their top 6 players - Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, John Collins, Walker Kessler, and Kris Dunn, all out with illness or injury. This left the rookies and bench guys to go against a juggernaut Nuggets team that still has plenty to play for (the top seed in the Western Conference).

Early on, the Jazz were hit with a few body blows and an uppercut or two, as the Nuggets took a 18-4 lead midway through the first quarter, and led 34-17 after the first 12 minutes.

Doc Louis (Will Hardy) patted the Jazz on the shoulder and the Jazz landed a few jabs, going on a 7-2 run to start the 2nd quarter. Then the champs responded and landed some more punches, going up by as many as 13 points.

The Jazz responded by cutting it to 5 with a minute left in the half, before missing some punches and getting dazed by Denver, as Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray quickly restored order and put the Nuggets up 12 at the half, 65-53.

In the 3rd, the Jazz made some nice moves, with Keyonte George getting 7 points to keep the Jazz in the game, as the champs staggered a bit - the Jazz had a 27-22 advantage in points but still trailed 87-80 going into the 4th. Still, there was hope of an upset, if remote.

In the final quarter, neither team could score much over the first 3.5 minutes, with 5 total points. and then the Nuggets unveiled a super punch - Jamal Murray scored 9 points in just over a minute to run the lead to 104-90 and then Nikola Jokic scored 4 points to push it out of reach, and the Nuggets won the match, 111-95.

Omer Yurtseven showed out in his best game as a Jazzman, with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 steals in 37 minutes.

Talen Horton Tucker led the Jazz with 24 points off the bench in 32 minutes, his most time on the season.

Luka Samanic had 16 points and 10 rebounds, but was a -24 in his 35 minutes.

The Jazz move to 29-50, the losing streak sadly hits 13 overall, and they are fairly entrenched with the 8th worst record in the league, with Brooklyn 2 games better and Memphis 2 games worse.

Barring any unforeseen winning by those teams, the Jazz will finish in this spot, and cannot finish worse than 9th now. So the 1st round pick will stay with the Jazz for the 2024 draft.

dark. Next. With their 1st rounders, who should the Jazz look at drafting?. Who the Jazz can draft with their picks this year