By Brigham Prince
Salt Lake City – The Utah Jazz began the Reebok Rocky Mountain Revue 1-1, beating the Denver Nuggets 82-71 on Saturday, July 19, after losing to the Phoenix Suns 89-84 in overtime on Friday.
Hoping to impress scouts and coaches, the revue is a chance for younger players and free agents to display their skills and make the NBA roster.
The Jazz jumped to a 12-3 lead early in Saturday”s win over the Nuggets.
DeShawn Stevenson sparked the Jazz, scoring 24 points and adding 4 assists. Rookie “Mo” Williams also came up big for the Jazz, scoring 12 points including hitting four free throws in the final 1 minute, 30 seconds.
The Nuggets made a late push at the Jazz late in the fourth quarter behind Jeff Trepagnier and Nikoloz Tskitishvili. The lead was cut to six on Trepagnier”s dunk with just under two minutes left, but Stevenson answered with a three and stole the ball on the ensuing possession, scoring again on a layup, stretching the Jazz lead to 11.
The Jazz held off the Nuggets with Williams and Stevenson going 6-8 from the free throw line in the final minute.
The Jazz received a scare late in the fourth with 2003 first-round draft pick Aleksandar Pavlovic going down with an ankle injury. Pavlovic fell to the floor clutching his ankle and had to be helped off the floor by teammates. After the game, Jazz assistant coach Kenny Natt reported he turned his ankle and that he should be able to play in Monday”s game against Dallas at 6 p.m.
Carmelo Anthony, the 2003 third overall draft pick, made his professional debut for the Nuggets scoring 18 points and grabbing six rebounds.
Despite a late comeback and fantastic play by Stevenson and Michael Ruffin, the Jazz came up short against Phoenix on Friday.
Trailing by nine late in the third quarter, Stevenson took charge of his team with great defense and creating shots on offense for his teammates.
The Jazz took a two-point lead on second-year center Curtis Borchardt”s dunk with just under five minutes left in the game. The Suns rallied to tie the game at 68 before a Stevenson put back gave the Jazz another two-point lead.
The Jazz built their lead to five with 1:55 left on Williams three pointer, but Joe Johnson of the Suns quickly answered with a three of his own to make it 75-72.
A free throw by Jazz center Zendon Hamilton made it 76-73 before the Suns tied the game on Zarko Cabarkapa”s three pointer with 1:15 left.
Hamilton would hit two more free throws taking a two-point lead before Suns guard Casey Jacobsen hit a three to give the Suns a 79-78 lead.
Ruffin hit one of two free throws with 32.9 left to tie the game at 79, before Cabarkapa”s dunk gave the Suns a two-point lead.
The Jazz tied it on Stevenson”s layup with 7.5 seconds left, sending the game into overtime tied at 81-81.
The Jazz never led in the extra period as Jacobsen scored four of the Suns eight points, giving them the five-point win.
Stevenson led the Jazz with 27 points with Ruffin adding 13 and grabbing 11 rebounds.
Despite the loss, Jazz assistant coach Gordon Chiesa who oversees the Jazz revue roster was pleased with his team”s performance.
“They shot the ball very well,” Chiesa said. “They showed a lot of heart coming back. Michael Ruffin showed a lot of heart and courage. DeShawn was sensational. He was selective in what he was doing.”
The Jazz will play four times this week at the revue with their final game coming on Saturday, July 26, against New York.