SALT LAKE CITY — A good, fire-breathing halftime speech can do wonders for a team.
So can a quiet nod of the head.
Down by as many as 16 points in the first half Monday, the Jazz skipped the halftime histrionics but still managed a fist-pumping 105-103 victory over the visiting Denver Nuggets at EnergySolutions Arena.
“We’re better than that,” Utah point guard Jamaal Tinsley said. “We know we’re capable of going out there and playing hard.”
The Jazz (8-7) improved to 6-0 on their home floor this season thanks to an intense effort after halftime. They outscored the Nuggets 30-19 in the third quarter and 51-38 for the entire second half.
Denver (8-7) looked to be in complete control in the first half, building a 61-45 lead with 3:05 left in the second quarter. The Nuggets shot a sizzling 73 percent in the first quarter and maintained it throughout the half.
But the game got a bit more scrappy in the second half and the Jazz seized momentum after Earl Watson tied the game at 87-all with 10:27 left to play.
They preserved the win with a clutch defensive stop in the final seconds as speedy Nuggets’ point guard Ty Lawson ran into Randy Foye and DeMarre Carroll.
“I was up for the challenge,” said Carroll, a former Nugget.
Al Jefferson scored 28 points and Derrick Favors came off the bench for 19 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots for the Jazz, who are 6-0 at home for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
Tinsley, filling in for injured starter Mo Williams, scored 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting, plus added six assists, two steals and two blocks.
Denver got 21 points from Kenneth Faried and 16 from Lawson.
The Nuggets dominated the first half and at times seemed to taut Utah’s players.
“You give up 35 points (in the first quarter) and 30 points (in the second) on your home floor to a team that played the night before, nobody was happy about that,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “We had to understand we needed to pick it up.”
Corbin didn’t blister the locker room walls with a halftime speech. Instead all he needed to do what let the first half simmer in his players’ minds.
“There was nothing much said, just we had to adjust and play harder in the second half,” Watson said. “They scored way too many points in each quarter in the first half.”
Tinsley said there was no need for a pep talk.
“We just wanted the game on in the second half,” he said. “We competed, not whining about calls and misses shots, just going out there and playing hard.”
Jefferson, who was held to just four points in a 20-point blowout loss Nov. 9 in Denver, never doubted what the outcome would be on Monday.
“We weren’t happy but at no point during the game did I feel like we weren’t going to win the game,” Jefferson said. “They play their style of basketball and we play our style and I just really believed we were going to win.”
A key moment occurred with 4:04 in the third when Marvin Williams hit a 3-pointer, capping a 10-0 Jazz run to tie the game at 77-all. Seconds later Denver’s Andre Iguodala was whistled for back-to-back technicals and booted from the game.
If the crowd wasn’t already into the game it certain was after that.
“I don’t think it gave us a boost, I think we were already playing with an edge,” Watson said. “I think that’s what ended up (causing) the two techs, the game changed. Emotions started to flare up on both sides. We kind of changed the momentum before that happened and we continued to change it.”
After shooting better than 70 percent from the field in the first half, the Nuggets were held to 37 percent in the third quarter and 35 in the fourth.
“When the momentum turned, everything was going against us,” Denver coach George Karl said. “To win in this building (requires) a fight. It’s a physical and mental fight.”
The Jazz start a three-game road trip beginning Wednesday at New Orleans.
• INJURY REPORT: Starting point guard Mo Williams is still dealing with a sprained right foot and left shootaround Monday morning in a walking boot. Williams said he is hopeful of returning when the Jazz visit New Orleans on Wednesday. Veteran Jamaal Tinsley started in his place. … Denver played without Wilson Chandler (left hip) and Julyan Stone (right hip).
• ETC.: Denver broke out to a 13-point lead in the first quarter, hitting 73 percent from the field. … The Nuggets led by 11 at the half and remained at 73 percent shooting for the half. … Sacramento guard Aaron Brooks was fined $25,000 by the NBA for tossing his mouthpiece into the stands following the Kings’ 104-102 loss at ESA on Nov. 23.