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DENVER -- Game two of Utah's first round series with the Nuggets was intense from the moment of tipoff to the second the Jazz walked off the floor with a 114-111 win. Not only were the Jazz fighting to even the series at one game apiece without two starters and a seemingly endless list of minor injuries, but it was also clear from the beginning of the matchup that the game would go to the more physical and composed free throw shooting team.
Combined, the Jazz and Nuggets shot an incredible 91 free throws on 67 total fouls. Utah was 36-of-47 from the charity stripe, while Denver hit 37-of-44. Both teams were facing penalty situations heading into the final three minutes of the game, and both were hungry to make a statement early in the series.
"We didn't feel too comfortable letting them get away in the last game," forward Paul Millsap said in a post-game interview on FSN. "We realized we didn't play as physical as we could against them."
Looking to make a shift in the tone of the series, Millsap said the Jazz brought everything they had to Denver Monday night.
"It was one of the most physical games we've played this year, but in the playoffs, you gotta come out and do that," Millsap said.
"It was a physical game. There's gonna be a lot of fouls when the game's like that. It was one of the most physical games we've played this year, but in the playoffs, you gotta come out and do that," Millsap said. "You gotta establish yourself as one of the physical teams in the league, and we did a great job of doing that tonight."
The game's aggressive tone was set early in the first quarter by play after play in which player after player hit the hardwood and went to the line. Millsap and Deron Williams were just two of many that felt the slap of the paint, and also just two of many who hit critical free throws down the stretch to help the Jazz get even with their Western Conference rival.
Millsap hit 8-of-12 from the free throw line and racked up 18 points, five rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots in 34 minutes off the bench.
Williams, who saw 41 minutes in game one and 45 minutes Monday night, hit 16-of-18 from the stripe on his way to a 33-point, 14-assist night.
"It was just a hard-fought victory. We hung tough; we fought through a lot of adversity. One, just being short-handed, and two, just the way the game was being played and the way things were swinging from side to side," Williams said. "They got the momentum back but we were able to withstand that, get the stops we needed, hit free throws when we needed to and win the game."
"It was just a hard-fought victory. We hung tough; we fought through a lot of adversity," Williams said.
Despite the consistent whistles heard throughout the Pepsi Center, Carmelo Anthony was the only man to hit the six-foul mark, and didn't achieve his final notch until just 25.4 seconds were left on the clock. Anthony tallied 32 points for the Nuggets, but Utah head coach Jerry Sloan said he was happy with the way the Jazz defended the small forward as he hit just 9-of-25 from the field.
The Jazz will head back to Salt Lake City for the next two games of the series before returning to Denver for game five April 28.