PHOENIX — Donovan Mitchell would have loved to end the game with some sort of highlight-reel dunk or step-back 3-pointer that would be replayed over and over again on television for the next 24 hours.
But it wasn’t that kind of night for the Cheap Utah Jazz Jerseys.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Jamal Murray took the blame for another slow start by Denver’s offense and quickly pointed out how well the Nuggets have been playing defensively.
“Our defense has been our anchor,” Murray said. “It’s been what’s won us (games). Guys have to know we’re a defensive team first. We can all score. We can all shoot. But defense is clearly how to win games.”
Murray scored 14 points of his 18 points in the second half, including four in the final 31 seconds, Gary Harris added a pair of late free throws and the Nuggets held on after nearly blowing a big lead in the fourth quarter, beating the winless Cheap Sacramento Kings Jerseys 101-94 on Monday night.
The Nuggets (3-0) shook off a sluggish first half when they shot 17 of 52, took control in the third quarter with a stifling defense that repeatedly forced Sacramento into contested shots from the perimeter, then held off a late rally by the Kings to remain unbeaten.
“I challenged our guys to be a lot more physical and make them feel us,” Denver coach Mike Malone said. “We didn’t change our game plan. We just changed how hard and how physical we were playing. This was another night our offense struggled, but some guys stepped up and made big plays down the stretch.”
Harris scored 17 points as Denver won its fifth straight against Sacramento. Nikola Jokic had nine points on 4-for-15 shooting with 13 rebounds and Will Barton added 13 points and nine rebounds.
Denver led comfortably midway through the fourth quarter before Holmes scored five points as part of a 10-0 run that cut the Nuggets’ lead to 90-88.
Holmes later scored on a soaring one-handed dunk that made it 95-92, before Murray’s deep shot just inside the 3-point line. After Barnes scored on a putback, Harris and Murray each hit two free throws.
“I came out more aggressive,” said Murray, who missed five of his first six shots. “That’s something I have to change with myself from the jump. I can’t just kind of be a part of the offense. I have to be aggressive and create for guys. That’s what I did in the second half.”
Richaun Holmes had 24 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings (0-4). De’Aaron Fox added 20 points and nine assists, and Harrison Barnes and Nemanja Bjelica each scored 12.
First-year Sacramento coach Luke Walton felt his team made progress despite the loss, particularly defensively.
“That’s what we have to be,” Walton said. “That’s why we stress, and there was a point made, becoming a team that comes on defense so that when we have off shooting nights we still have a chance to win. We really played a competitive game and we stuck together.”
Nuggets: Denver outscored Sacramento 30-17 in the third quarter. … Murray and Barton were a combined 2 of 12 in the first half when Denver shot 32.7% from the floor.
Kings: The last time Sacramento started 0-4 was in 2008-09, when Reggie Theus was the coach. … Trevor Ariza made three 3s in the first quarter. He went into the night 1 of 7 from beyond the arc. … Holmes was called for a technical for taunting after dunking against Denver’s Mason Plumlee. … Marvin Bagley III missed his second consecutive game with a broken thumb. Harry Giles (left knee soreness) was also held out.
The Kings have been outscored by 10 or more in the third quarter of every game so far this season. “I think it’s still a focus thing,” Holmes said. “We have to come in and just lock in, lock in to what we’re doing and lock in fast.”
“This was a mature win. They were hungry, they played with a lot of energy. And we matched that energy and we finished the deal.” — Denver’s Mason Plumlee.
A physical drive, a drawn foul and a clutch free throw would have to do.
Mitchell scored 25 points, including the game-winning foul shot with 0.4 seconds left, and the Jazz rallied to beat the Cheap Phoenix Suns Jerseys 96-95 on Monday.
“It’s me just attacking, coming downhill,” Mitchell said. “(Jevon) Carter was a great defender all game, but I just made a move and tried to get to the free throw line. I didn’t do that much in the second half, but I did on the final play.”
Mitchell took the ball in the backcourt in the final seconds and then drove through the lane past Carter, getting fouled by Devin Booker as he tried to make a layup. Mitchell sank the first free throw before missing the second, and Frank Kaminsky III’s last-second heave was well short.
Bojan Bogdanovic led the Jazz with 29 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including 4 for 8 from 3-point range. Rudy Gobert had 15 points and 18 rebounds and made 11 of 12 free throws.
Utah won despite shooting just 38 percent from the field and committing 23 turnovers. The Jazz made up for it with good defense, especially in the final minutes.
“We didn’t put our heads down after those mistakes. Got back and really worked to get stops,” coach Quin Snyder said. “When you do that, you have a chance. We had some really big plays down the stretch.”
The teams were tied at 70 heading into the fourth quarter before the Suns pushed ahead with five straight points. The game was tied again when Bogdanovic scored on a fast-break layup and was fouled with 1:45 left. He made the free throw to give the Jazz a 95-92 lead.
Phoenix (2-2) was led by Booker’s 21 points. Kelly Oubre Jr. added 18 and Carter had 15, including a 3-pointer that tied it at 95 with less than a minute left.
Aron Baynes scored 12 for the Suns, including a career-high three 3-pointers. He made just 25 shots from beyond the arc in his first seven seasons, including 21 last year.
Ricky Rubio faced Utah (3-1) for the first time since signing a free-agent deal with the Suns in the offseason. He finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
“I like how in the tough moments we get together and play with passion,” Rubio said. “The only difference not making the playoffs or making it is winning these kinds of games. I know we are young, we are learning, but we have to close out.”
Both teams struggled to make shots in the first half as the Jazz built a 46-39 lead. Bogdanovic led Utah with 14 points.
MORE THAN 0.4 SECONDS?
Phoenix coach Monty Williams thought Mitchell got fouled with 1.8 seconds left instead of 0.4, which made it nearly impossible to get a last-second shot toward the rim. The call was not reviewed.
Williams said that was frustrating, but it wasn’t his team’s biggest problem.
“That is a tough one to swallow but that wasn’t the reason we lost,” he said. “Our ball movement was stagnant tonight.”
Jazz: Dante Exum was out with a right knee injury. … Utah outrebounded Phoenix 35-22 in the first half. … Mitchell was called for a flagrant 1 foul in the third quarter after trying to fight around a screen by Baynes.
Suns: Rubio returned after missing one game with a bruised left knee. … Ty Jerome is out with a sprained right ankle. … Phoenix had a moment of silence before the game for Al Bianchi, who was an assistant coach and scout for the Suns for 23 seasons, including during the team’s run to the Cheap NBA Jerseys Finals in 1976. The team said he died at age 87. … Booker got a flagrant 1 foul in the third quarter for hitting Gobert in the groin while fighting around a screen.
Jazz: Host the Cheap Los Angeles Clippers Jerseys on Wednesday.
Suns: Travel to Cheap Golden State Warriors Jerseys on Wednesday.
Nuggets: Host Cheap Dallas Mavericks Jerseys on Tuesday night.
Kings: Host Cheap Charlotte Hornets Jerseys on Wednesday night.