The Utah Jazz are far away from competing with teams like the Nuggets

An early deficit proves too much for the Utah Jazz to overcome on Saturday night.
Mar 9, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Utah Jazz forward Brice Sensabaugh (8) passes the ball under
Mar 9, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Utah Jazz forward Brice Sensabaugh (8) passes the ball under / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz faced off with one of the best teams in the NBA on Saturday night, as the defending champion Denver Nuggets arrived in town, fresh off a win over the league-leading Boston Celtics on Thursday night.

Though the Jazz had defeated Denver earlier in the season, this loomed as an uphill battle, especially with team-leading scorer Lauri Markkanen still out due to injury. However, Keyonte George and Walker Kessler were healthy enough to return, giving the Jazz another new starting lineup: George, Sexton, Sensabaugh, Collins, and Kessler.

From the start, the Jazz struggled, going down 13-4 in just over 3 minutes of play, as Denver hit several 3-pointers and the Jazz missed or turned the ball over.

After that, the Jazz scored a few buckets and closed the gap momentarily, trailing 18-12 with just over 6 minutes left in the quarter.

Then Denver went on a 16-4 run and took control of the game, leading 38-22 at the end of the first quarter.

Denver went on a 29-10 run over the next 8 minutes against the Jazz to blow the game completely open and led 78-44 at the half.

Despite the 34-point deficit, the Jazz didn't give up. Keyonte George had 16 in the quarter and Brice Sensabaugh scored 11 and helped lead the Jazz out of the hole a bit, cutting Denver's lead to 14 by the end of the 3rd and giving a momentary glimpse of our rookies' bright future.

In the 4th, Denver got serious again and boosted their lead back to 23, effectively ending any Jazz hopes of a comeback win. The final was 142-121 for the Nuggets.

Collins and Sensabaugh were the only Jazz players with a plus/minus that was positive on the night, going +6 and +4, respectively. However, Keyonte George and Collin Sexton were -2 and -1, also notable.

The only Jazz bench player to not have a double-digit minus was Luka Samanic, who was a -4 in 15 minutes. Jordan Clarkson was a team-worst -29 in his 28 minutes, despite a 22-point night.

While the Jazz shot a respectable 50% overall from the field, they were 30.8% from 3 on 26 attempts. They allowed Denver a video-game-like 66.3% from the field and 59% from 3 on the night.

Jamal Murray led the way for Denver with 37 points and 7 assists, while Nikola Jokic shot 12-14 from the field and had 26 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists in 32 minutes.

The Jazz (28-36) move on to Tuesday night's home game against the aforementioned Boston Celtics, who visit Portland on Monday night and then travel to Salt Lake City. No word yet on whether Lauri Markkanen will return this week, so it could be another rough outing for the Jazz.