The game was chippy, physical and mean-spirited.
And the atmosphere was electric.
Playing on ESPN against the division-leading Denver Nuggets, the Utah Jazz put together one of their best all-around games of the season in a 114-108 victory Wednesday night in Salt Lake City.
Led by Donovan Mitchell, who scored a game-high 35 points, Utah—and the raucous home crowd—got fired up following Derrick Favors’ first-quarter ejection. That fire propelled the Jazz (27-22) to their ninth win in their last 11 games.
“Obviously, whatever happened, you don’t want that,” Utah’s Joe Ingles said after the game. “We went on a little run afterwards, so it was a benefit to us. Losing Favors is always going to hurt us, but guys stepped up and we were able to overcome it.”
With 2:46 to go in the first quarter, Favors got tangled up with Denver’s Mason Plumlee, who confronted Favors and said something that set off Utah’s big man. Following a flurry of shoving and flailing arms, the two were eventually separated and, after review, ejected from the game.
Ricky Rubio, in his second game back after missing six games with an injured hamstring, returned to the starting lineup and finished with 17 points and six assists in 24 minutes.
Rudy Gobert (15 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three blocks), Joe Ingles (14 points, five rebounds, eight assists) and Jae Crowder (15 points, six rebounds) also scored in double figures in the victory.
Star center Nikola Jokic exploded for 28 points, 21 rebounds, six assists and two steals for the Nuggets (31-15), while Will Barton added 22 points off the bench in the loss.