SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Ty Lawson had 23 points and nine assists and the Denver Nuggets ended a three-game losing streak despite playing without injured stars Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, beating the Utah Jazz 105-95 on Saturday night The Nuggets compensated for missing such a huge chunk of their offense with gritty defense, forcing Utah into a season-high 26 turnovers. Nene added 22 points and Kenyon Martin finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds for Denver. Carlos Boozer had 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Jazz, who compounded their own struggles with a bad night at the free throw line and forcing up outside shots. Utah did win the rebounding battle 41-32 and shot above 50 percent, but the Nuggets more than compensated by shutting down the Jazz when they tried to get inside. Denver outscored Utah 64-48 in the paint and scored 33 points off Utah’s turnovers. Utah fans booed often and left early as the Jazz blew an opportunity to make up ground on the Northwest Division leaders, who were playing without Anthony for the first time this season. Anthony (right knee contusion) is second in the league in scoring with an average of 30 points per game, and Billups has been averaging 17 points and almost six assists. The rookie Lawson started for Billups at the point and had the most assists of his short career and tied his personal best for scoring. J.R. Smith added 18 points for Denver. Mehmet Okur had 16 points and nine rebounds and Deron Williams also scored 16 for the Jazz. The Nuggets led 51-47 at halftime, then stuck with what had gotten them that far in the third quarter. Denver kept Utah on the perimeter and swatted away the ball when the Jazz weren’t paying attention. Nene took two steals in for dunks during the period, including one that put Denver up 69-59 and kicked off an 8-0 run. Nene added two from the foul line, J.R. Smith followed with two free throws, then grabbed an offensive rebound on a missed free throw and hit a 3-pointer for a 75-59 lead with 3:36 left in the third. The Jazz added to their own struggles by committing nine fouls and nine turnovers in the period, and Denver took advantage for a 78-68 lead entering the fourth. Williams got the Jazz within 86-77 on a three-point play, but the Nuggets answered that with a 6-0 run. Nene put back an offensive rebound, Chris Andersen hit a jumper and Anthony Carter drove for a layup that put the Nuggets up 92-77 with 7:20 left in the game. The Nuggets kept the Jazz from rallying until there wasn’t enough time for a comeback. The Jazz shot 50 percent in the first half, but turned the ball over 12 times – leading to 17 points by the Nuggets. When Boozer’s shot at the buzzer was waved off after a replay, Denver led 51-47 at halftime. Lawson and Nene scored 11 apiece in the half. NOTES: Lawson’s previous career high for assists was six on Dec. 28 at Sacramento. … Lawson score nine in the first quarter, including a layup with three seconds left that gave the Nuggets a 28-25 lead entering the second period. … Utah’s previous high for turnovers was 24. … The Jazz went 20-for-27 from the foul line.
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