SALT LAKE CITY — When Paul Millsap was on the floor, good things happened for the Utah Jazz in their 112-104 first-round series-clinching win over the Nuggets on Friday night.
There was the up-and-under reverse layup to tie the game at 67-67 in the third quarter. There were the two three-point plays in the fourth quarter, the second of which gave the Jazz a 98-95 lead.
Of course, there were the hustle plays that have made Millsap a fan-favorite with Jazz backers: the diving for loose balls, offensive rebounds, blocked shots and deflections.
But one number stood out above the rest of Millsap's accomplishments — his plus-minus. When Millsap was in Game 6, the Jazz outscored the Nuggets by a whopping 24 points — the same as his jersey number.
"He did what he does," said Jazz forward C.J. Miles. "He came in, he made shots, finished off rebounds, blocked shots. He did everything he could do to help us win."
Millsap gave the Jazz the spark they needed in the second half. With only six points at halftime and a technical foul for arguing a whistle against him early in the third quarter, he put together a spectacular final 20 minutes of play.
His fancy up-and-under move tied the game at 67-67 after the Jazz had fallen behind by eight points early in the third quarter. He blocked a shot by Carmelo Anthony — after the Jazz failed to collect a rebound following three Denver missed during a possession — and it led to a jumper by Ronnie Price that put the Jazz up, 76-75.
Millsap finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots.
"I'm just trying to be aggressive — trying to do me, trying to be me, get off the bench and spark that energy we need to push forward," Millsap said. "I mean, that's my job."
And he did his job well, along with star players Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer, and rookie Wesley Matthews.
"When he got rolling, Deron did a good job of finding him on the pick-and-rolls and then Booz made some jump shots, which opened up the floor, allowed him to be able to get those layups," Miles said of Millsap. "Those guys basically carried us in the fourth quarter."
Millsap's three-point plays in the fourth quarter were among the game's biggest plays. The first one put the Jazz up 92-91. The second gave Utah a 98-95 lead and sparked a 10-0 run. The Nuggets never recovered.
"I was just trying to get to the rim," Millsap said. "Deron did a great job of feeding us down low. The interior passing was great. I just went up strong and got the foul."
Millsap took advantage of the injured Nene's absence in the second half, as the Nuggets got little from their big men after halftime. He got to the basket fairly easily, and shot 5-for-6 from the field after the break.