Paul Millsap scored 14 straight points for Utah in the critical fourth quarter to carry the Jazz to a 106-96 triumph over Northwest Division rivals the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.
Finishing with 26 points and 12 rebounds, Millsap’s devastating personal run in the final quarter gave Utah (8-4) their seventh win in eight contests.
The Jazz led 81-79 early in the fourth when their big power forward netted his own 6-0 run to stretch the lead and finished with 16 in the quarter to keep the Nuggets at bay.
“My teammates did a great job of finding me, of going to me. There was a mismatch and we tried to expose it,” Millsap told reporters.
“Our team is very unselfish and they find the guy with the mismatch. You get in a zone like that, you get hot and start feeling it, guys just start looking for you,” Millsap said.
Denver were coming off a big victory over the Miami Heat on Friday and were involved with a close battle all game, but were unable to keep pace down the stretch.
Nene and Danilo Gallinari each recorded 18 points in the loss for the Nuggets (8-5).
Gallinari also had the unenviable task of trying to guard Millsap.
“In my opinion they kind of disrespected him by putting [Gallinari] on him,” Utah’s Al Jefferson said. “He had an advantage and he got hot. He was in the zone tonight.”
Jefferson added 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Gordon Hayward had 19 for Utah.
The win moved the Jazz into second place in the Northwest Division behind the Oklahoma City Thunder (11-2).
SPURS 102, SUNS 91
In San Antonio, Texas, Tim Duncan had 24 points and 11 rebounds, leading San Antonio to victory over Phoenix and keeping the Spurs perfect at home.
Tony Parker had 17 points and nine assists for the Spurs, who have won all nine of their home games and are 0-4 on the road.
The 9-0 start marks their best opening at home since the 2007-2008 season when they began 13-0.
Suns veterans Steve Nash and Grant Hill returned from injury. Nash had 20 points and 10 assists, while Hill had just four points.
WARRIORS 99, PISTONS 91
In Auburn Hills, Michigan, David Lee scored 24 points to lead Golden State to their first road win over the season, downing Detroit.
Monta Ellis added 22 — with 17 coming in the second half — for the Warriors, who trailed by four points at halftime, but went on an 8-0 run in the third quarter to hit the front and stay there.
The lead was still only five points in the fourth quarter until the visitors put the game away with a 10-0 run.
Greg Monroe had 25 points and eight rebounds for the Pistons.