|Unbeaten Jazz capitalize on Jokic's halftime departure
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Ahead of Tuesday night's TNT-televised showdown with the Northwest Division rival Denver Nuggets in Salt Lake City, Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder made an admission.
Snyder loves Nikola Jokic's game. Of course, Snyder prefers when he can sit back and enjoy watching the wide variety of skills the reigning Most Valuable Player brings to the game when he isn't about to face Jokic and the Nuggets.
"He's unique. I love him," Snyder said. "I don't know if you're allowed to kind of have a favorite player or things like that as a coach, and there's probably a few of them, but he's one of the guys that I really enjoy watching. I don't enjoy scouting him as much."
Snyder noted that Jokic is difficult to guard because he's a huge man with point-guard skills and wing-scoring capabilities. Oh, yeah, and he's got post moves and a "nearly unblockable" turnaround shot.
That's why Jazz center Rudy Gobert, no stranger to league honors as last season's Defensive Player of the Year, concurred with the NBA voters for MVP last season.
"He was MVP for a reason," Gobert said. "Yeah, he's a unique player."
Gobert, by the way, is the only NBA player to snag more rebounds per game than Jokic. The French center has hauled in 41 boards in just two games. Jokic, the big Serbian, averages 16 per game.
While the Jazz have had a few days off to think about Jokic and Denver, the Nuggets endured their first home loss of the season on Monday night, 99-87 to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Jokic led them with 24 points and 19 rebounds, but Denver had only three other players score in double figures, with nobody else getting more than 12.
Monday's game was rough in several areas for Denver, which only shot 40.7 percent overall, including 9-for-38 from 3-point range.
In addition to falling from the ranks of the unbeaten, Denver is trending in the wrong direction when it comes to taking care of the basketball. The Nuggets turned the ball over 22 times, which is a season-high. They have 62 turnovers in three games.
"It's getting out of hand," Denver coach Mike Malone said.
The Nuggets have their work cut out for them on the tail end of a back-to-back set, traveling to Utah late Monday night and being matched with one of only three remaining undefeated teams.
Malone doesn't like what he's seeing from his team right now.
"We got some guys that are just kind of moping around, jogging around out there, kind of looking sorry for themselves."
--Field Level Media