The Jazz (22-35) jumped out to a double-digit lead on a Dante Exum layup four and a half minutes into the game and they never let up against a Denver team in a free fall, having lost 18 of its past 20 games.
The closest thing Denver mounted to a comeback came early in the third, when the Nuggets cut an 18-point lead to 10.
“Coach called a timeout, got on us for a bit and we were ready to play again,” said Burke, who 19 points and had four assists off the bench.
Gordon Hayward (15 points, five assists and five rebounds) put Utah up 20 with a long jumper midway through the third quarter, and by the time the period ended the lead had grown to 27.
Utah’s defense smothered Denver on Friday. The Nuggets shot 33 percent from the floor and the Jazz held them to quarters of 17, 17 and 19 before giving up 29 in a final frame that saw Grant Jerrett, Jack Cooley and Bryce Cotton all make their Jazz debuts.
The Jazz blocked 15 shots, swiped 13 steals and out-rebounded Denver 43-36 on the night.
At that heart of that defensive effort was Utah’s budding frontcourt of Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert. The Nuggets were missing their best rim protector, rookie Jusuf Nurkic, and forward Darrell Arthur, and the Jazz took advantage in the paint.
Favors scored a team-high 21 points to go along with 10 rebounds and three blocks. Meanwhile, Gobert (10 points, eight rebounds and six blocks) gave Nuggets fans a cruel taste of what might have been had Denver not traded him to Utah on draft night for second-round pick Erick Green and cash.
The Nuggets were led by 22 points off the bench from Will Barton, who was picked up in a deadline trade with the Portland Trail Blazers. But Barton didn’t get much help along the way. Only two other Denver players recorded double-digit scoring totals. Forward Danilo Gallinari scored 13 points and big man Kenneth Faried chipped in 12 off the bench.
The Jazz shot 57.4 percent from the field and hit 9-of-21 attempts from 3-point territory, led by three apiece form Burke and rookie Rodney Hood.
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