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Jazz Loss Moves Them to Ninth Spot, Battle for Top Seed in the West

All good things must come to an end and for the Utah Jazz (39-37), its five-game win steak snapped on Wednesday with a 113-96 loss against the Denver Nuggets (51-24).

The Jazz also saw the playoffs moving away as it now sits in the ninth spot, a 1/2 game behind the Los Angeles Lakers (39-36) for the coveted Western Conference spot No. 8.

Against the Nuggets, Gordon Heyward led the Jazz in scoring with 18 points, followed by Al Jefferson (nine rebounds) and Paul Millsap’s 16 points apiece.

Denver Nuggets Danilo Gallinari

Denver Nuggets Danilo Gallinari

For the Nuggets, they played without lead scorer, Ty Lawson, who is suffering from a foot injury but no worries, Danilo Gallinari showed up and scored 21 points (nine consecutive ones in the final quarter), followed by Kenneth Faried with 19 points, eight rebounds and two blocks for the team.

The team’s bench also gave solid play with Evan Fournier’s 18 points (7-for-9 shooting) followed by Corey Brewer’s 14-point contribution and Wilson Chandler’s 10.

The Nuggets are in their own playoff battle, looking for a No. 3 seed to take from either the Memphis Grizzlies (51-24) or the L.A. Clippers (50-26).

Nuggets coach George Karl said of his team’s current playoff situation via ESPN, “It’s a solid win for us in a race that is probably going to go down to the last week. In a way, I hate helping the Lakers, but now maybe they can help us.”

Next up for this team in its seven remaining games is the Dallas Mavericks (36-38) on Thursday. It looks like a third straight win for the Nuggets (-6.5, 208 u/o).

Also on Thursday, there’s the battle for the No. 1 seed in the Western conference. The Oklahoma City Thunder (54-20) will host the San Antonio Spurs (55-19).

The Thunder sit at 9 to 2 to win this year’s championship while the Spurs are 5 to 1.

Oklahoma City vs. San Antonio

The Spurs sit at the top of the Western Conference, followed by the Thunder 1.5 games behind.

They will enter the game after a four-day rest while the Spurs defeated the lowly Orlando Magic (19-57), 98-84 on Wednesday. Absent from the win was Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili but the team’s bench stepped up. Danny Green led in scoring with 20 points; Gary Neal added 16 and Tiago Splitter contributed 10 with nine rebounds.

Thursday’s game will be another story as Parker and Leonard are expected to return; Ginobli will remain out.

For the Thunder, they’ve won their last four of five games with their most recent win against the Milwaukee Bucks (36-38) on Saturday, 109-99. They know a lot is on the line as the regulars seasons approaches its end.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks said via ESPN, “To get four days off is going to help your body and help your mind, just to give you some physical and mental rest is always good. We know we’re playing one of the best teams in the league, and we’re going to focus on playing well against them. There’s no doubt they challenge you in a lot of different ways, but it’s good for us. It’s always good to play against the best teams down the stretch.”

Thunder's Serge Ibaka

Thunder’s Serge Ibaka

Playing at home is a good thing for Oklahoma City as they have outscored the Spurs by a 12-point average from four consecutive home wins; this includes last year’s three wins in the conference finals. For this season, on Dec. 17 at home, the Thunder defeated the Spurs 107-93 thanks to 25 points from Serge Ibaka along with his season high-tying 17 rebounds.

Doug Martin also played well in this game, scoring 20 points.

Unfortunately for the Spurs they don’t play well in back-to-back games, losing three consecutive ones in the second games. They have defeated the Thunder twice this season, with their most recent win coming last month at home, 105-93.





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