One of the strangest games in the Jazz's long, strange season ended with a familiar result Thursday night.
Ty Lawson scored 23 points and Aaron Afflalo hit the decisive 3-point shot with 11.4 seconds remaining to lead Denver to a 103-101 victory over slumping Utah.
The loss was the Jazz's seventh straight at EnergySolutions Arena their longest such streak since 1982.
This game was not decided until the final second after the Nuggets nearly squandered a five-point lead in the final 1.2 seconds.
Utah trailed, 103-98, when Devin Harris made what looked like a meaningless 3-pointer.
Inbounding from under his own basket, Denver's Kenyon Martin fumbled the ball away to Andrei Kirilenko, who nearly tied the game.
As Kirilenko raised for a layup, however, Martin reached in and got a piece of the ball.
It was just enough for Kirilenko to lose full control, and his shot dribbled off the rim as time expired.
Martin was standing out of bounds when he touched the ball, and replays showed seven-tenths of a second remained at that point.
But it was not called.
"His hand was on the ball," Kirilenko said. "It wasn't a foul. ... Unfortunately it was a pretty good play. If I would have been able to finish, it would have been nice."
Said coach Tyrone Corbin: "Guys are playing hard. They're busting their butt. ... [But] we turned the ball over a few times down the stretch and it cost us."
C.J. Miles scored 22 points to lead Utah, while Harris finished with 21.
Winning for the sixth time in seven games since trading All-Star Carmelo Anthony and veteran point guard Chauncey Billups to New York, Denver started quickly.
The Nuggets made nine of their first 11 shots, including the first five. Nene, who averages 14.9 points a game, scored 10 in the opening 61/2 minutes.
Fortunately for the Jazz, they also played well on the offensive end. After an early 7-0 deficit, Utah converted 10 of 12 possessions.
Harris scored five quick points and Paul Millsap's jumper made it 21-19.
But the Jazz cooled.
They managed only two field goals in the final 5:20 and the Nuggets built their lead back to 30-23.
In the second quarter, the Jazz got a huge lift from Miles.
After managing only 18 points on 6-of-18 shooting in the last three games, Miles scored six in a two-minute span.
Still, Denver owned a 42-33 lead before Miles assisted on Earl Watson's 3-pointer and came up with a steal that led to Gordon Hayward's layup.
Al Jefferson's jumper capped a 7-0 run that trimmed the Nuggets' lead to 42-40.
Down the stretch, however, the Jazz could not stop Lawson.
He scored 10 of his 14 points in the final four minutes of the first half as Denver regained a 58-51 advantage.
In the third quarter, the teams traded baskets until Harris buried a three-pointer and Raja Bell hit a jumper to make it 66-64.
From there, this game was a dogfight.
It ended in strange but familiar fashion for Utah.
The Jazz played without Memo Okur (back), Ronnie Price (toe) and rookie Derrick Favors (illness).
Favors' loss hurt the Jazz because he has played well since arriving from New Jersey as part of the Deron Williams trade.
In his first three games, Favors averaged 8.3 points and three rebounds in only 16.3 minutes.
"He's really sick," Corbin said before the game.
"... He tried this morning. He came in and tried to go through shootaround. But you could look at him and see he didn't feel good at all."
The Jazz sent Favors home about an hour prior to tipoff.
Said Corbin, "If he's sick with some kind of virus and you have him around the guys, you end getting four or five guys getting the same thing. So he needed to be away from it."
R With Denver leading 99-98 with 11.4 seconds remaining, Aaron Afflalo buries an open 3-point shot.