SALT LAKE CITY — Seven hours before tipoff, an arena quiet, George Karl envisioned nighttime at EnergySolutions Arena — an ear-popping crowd where "the whistle gets wild and crazy against you," he said. Oh, and Utah had won five consecutive games, fighting for a playoff spot. As such, the Nuggets' coach suggested that Wednesday's game would either be close in the fourth, or a blowout — in favor of the home team.

So what happened? Well, let's put it this way — Timofey Mozgov played...for the winning team.

The Nuggets blew out the Jazz in Utah, 113-96, thanks to stat sheet-stuffing games from numerous players.

"It's not very often that this building is empty by the end of the game," Karl said.

Denver Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried hangs from the rim after dunking the ball in the third quarter against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday.
Denver Nuggets' Kenneth Faried hangs from the rim after dunking the ball in the third quarter against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. (Rick Bowmer, The Associated Press)

It was bananas. Danilo Gallinari scored a team-high 21 points, including a huge 3 in the fourth. Kenneth Faried had 19 points and eight rebounds. Kosta Koufos gobbled up 13 rebounds in 24 minutes. And even Evan Fournier, again, made major impacts as the backup point guard, and took advantage of garbage time, finishing with 18 points.

"You have to stay ready and stay focused," said Fournier, who made an impressive and-one in the fourth. "I'm just enjoying it now because when Ty comes back I'll probably go back to the bench. But now I think coach knows I can help the team."

What a night, indeed. With the win, the Nuggets (51-24) have the third-most wins in the Western Conference, with seven games remaining.


"It's a solid win for us in a race that probably will go down to the last day," Karl said. "In a way I hate helping the Lakers, but they can help us against Memphis or the Clippers."

On Thursday, Denver has a tough back-to-back game at home against Dallas, but starting point guard Andre Miller, who could drive legally when Fournier was born, logged only 26 minutes, getting to rest in the fourth quarter.

Denver is still without its best player, point guard Ty Lawson, who is out with a heel injury that Karl said: "We're hoping it's an injury that will only be a week or two weeks."

The last time the Nuggets were here in this sweat box of a gym, Ty had a chance to tie. But Lawson botched the final possession and Denver couldn't get a shot off, losing by two. This was in November, when Lawson was still tentative at times. Since, he has blossomed.

So have the Nuggets, who are trying to get the third seed in the conference for the playoffs. Wednesday's win will help.

Denver led just 56-51 at the half, but exploded in the third quarter, tallying more assists in the third (nine) than in the first half (seven).

The most in-your-face assists came courtesy of Miller, who launched a halfcourt alley-oop to Faried, who beat Al Jefferson to the rim for a breathtaking play.

The Jazz only scored 17 points in the pivotal third quarter, and Denver entered the fourth up 81-68.

"Our defense, statistically it doesn't rank high, but we have ways to beat you both offensively and differently, and weapons to throw out there," Karl said. "And we trust the pass more than most teams.

"I like this team because you don't know how we're going to beat you. I don't know who my horse is going to be tonight, so you can't know who my horse is going to be. I'm hoping my horse is going to be teamness, defense and fundamentals."

Nuggets Recap

What you might have missed
Andre Iguodala had a pair of eye-popping dunks, including a backward, two-handed slam down the right baseline. ... Former University of Colorado star Alec Burks played nearly 18½ minutes, scoring eight points for the Jazz. ... The Nuggets shot 32 free throws and the home team shot only 18. ... Kenneth Faried had a huge first half for the Nuggets, scoring 11 points and grabbing six rebounds.

Final thought
Amazing energy from Denver in a tough place to play.

Up next
Thursday vs. Dallas, 7 p.m.