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Round Two: Battle Of The Mountain West | Utah Jazz

The reigning player of the month vs. the reigning MVP.

The best defensive player in the game vs. the best offensive player in the game.

The battle of the Mountain West.

National television! Primetime! What more could anyone want?

That’s what fans will be treated to on Wednesday night when the Utah Jazz continue their five-game road trip with a showdown against the Denver Nuggets. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. MST and will be broadcast on TNT.

Utah is in the second game of a five-game road trip that’s set to complete the first half of the season. The Jazz sit at 27-10 on the year and in third place in the league standings, showing they’re a legitimate title contender. 

Meanwhile, the Nuggets are in pure survival mode with Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. out for the foreseeable future recovering from serious injuries. But they sit at fifth place in the western conference standings, winning three of the past four games — including a victory over Golden State.

December was the best month of Mitchell’s career as he averaged 30.2 points, 5.0 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals in 34.2 minutes per game. While those are excellent numbers, it was the efficiency that truly set him apart, shooting 50.2% from the field, 37.7% from three-point territory, and 87% from the free throw line.

It was nearly a perfect month for the Jazz, going 10-2 as a team and climbing to the top-3 in the NBA standings, including victories over Boston, Cleveland, Washington, Philadelphia, and the Los Angeles Clippers.

But the Jazz are just 1-1 since the turn of the new year, overcoming a loss to the Warriors on New Year’s Day to take down the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night. 

Besides Mitchell’s strong play of late, Rudy Gobert has been equally impressive with dominating numbers that don’t even begin to express how valuable he’s been on the court. 

He’s averaging 15.5 points, 15.1 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks on the season, showcasing the ability to affect the game as much on offense as he has as the reigning defensive player of the year. Gobert’s improved physicality and skillset have turned him into a legitimate offensive weapon, as showcased by his 20-point performance against the Warriors and 13 combined offensive rebounds the past two games. 

But both Mitchell and Gobert will have their hands full when taking on Nikola Jokic, the reigning MVP who’s been statistically better this year. 

In the first meeting between these two teams back on Oct. 26 — the third game of the season — the Jazz emerged with a 122-110 victory at home as Gobert put up 23 points and 16 rebounds. However, Jokic had 24 points, six rebounds, six assists, and a +7 rating in just 15 minutes of action before a knee injury forced him to miss the rest of the game. 

STATS
Utah (27-10, 13-3 away / No. 3 Western Conference)
Offense
*116.0 Points Per Game (No. 1 in NBA)
*117.0 Offensive Rating (No. 1 in NBA)

Defense
*106.1 Points Per Game (No. 9 in NBA)
*107.1 Defensive Rating (No. 5 in NBA)

*Donovan Mitchell: 25.7 points / 5.1 assists / 3.9 rebounds
*Rudy Gobert: 15.5 points / 15.1 rebounds / 2.3 blocks / 70.6% shooting 
*Bojan Bogdanovic: 17.8 points / 3.9 rebounds / 42.6% 3P-territory
*Mike Conley: 14.3 points / 5.3 assists / 2.9 rebounds / 42.9% 3P-territory

Denver Nuggets (18-17, 8-6 home / No. 5 Western Conference)
Offense
*105.8 Points Per Game (No. 23 in NBA)
*108.5 Offensive Rating (No. 20 in NBA)

Defense
*106.1 Points Per Game (No. 8 in NBA)
*109.0 Defensive Rating (No. 16 in NBA)

*Nikola Jokic: 25.7 points / 14.0 rebounds / 6.9 assists
*Will Barton: 15.1 points / 5.1 rebounds / 4.2 assists
*Aaron Gordon: 14.1 points / 5.6 rebounds / 52.1% shooting
*Monte Morris: 12.6 points / 4.3 assists / 38% 3P-territory

MATCHUP TO WATCH
*Rudy Gobert vs. Nikola Jokic
— The battle between the best defensive player in the game against arguably the most versatile offensive player in the game, Gobert vs. Jokic is one of the best individual battles between any two players in the league. Jokic got the best of Gobert in the opener before the injury, but Gobert got the win. Once again, the winner of this matchup will probably be the one leading their respective team to victory.

INJURY REPORT
Utah
PROBABLE — Donovan Mitchell (Left Low Back Strain)
PROBABLE — Jordan Clarkson (Low Back Tightness)
QUESTIONABLE — Rudy Gobert (Left Shoulder Inflammation)
QUESTIONABLE — Bojan Bogdanovic (Left Finger Sprain)
QUESTIONABLE — Royce O’Neale (Right Patellar Tendonitis)
QUESTIONABLE — Hassan Whiteside (Concussion Protocol)
QUESTIONABLE — Udoka Azubuike (Right Ankle Sprain)
OUT — Joe Ingles (Health & Safety Protocols)

Denver
QUESTIONABLE — Austin Rivers (right thumb sprain)
QUESTIONABLE — Zeke Nnaji (Health & Safety Protocols)
OUT — Vlatko Cancar (right foot fracture)
OUT — PJ Dozier (left ACL surgery)
OUT — Jeff Green (Health & Safety Protocols)
OUT — Markus Howard (left knee sprain)
OUT — Monte Morris (Health & Safety Protocols)
OUT — Jamal Murray (left knee injury recovery)
OUT — Michael Porter Jr. (lumbar spine surgery)

BROADCAST INFORMATION
Time: 8:00 p.m. MST
Location: Ball Arena / Denver, CO
TV: TNT / AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 1280 The Zone 

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