Forward Richard Jefferson told his young teammates that they were still going to win despite trailing early in the fourth quarter.
"I remember Rich kind of bringing everyone together and saying, 'They're a good team, they made their run, now it's our turn to make a run,'" guard Gordon Hayward said. "We slowed down and kind of made one of our own."
And they made Jefferson prophetic.
Jefferson scored 14 points for the Jazz, who were predictably upbeat after stealing a road win.
"You got that right," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "They're hard to get."
It was also Denver's third loss at Pepsi Center this year, matching its total from all of last season.
The loss might have bigger repercussions for Denver, which has started slow a few times lately. Coach Brian Shaw wasn't happy with Utah's 33-point first quarter, which came a week after Boston dropped 39 on his team to start a game.
"I don't know if I have to shake it up or what I have to do with that starting lineup. The chemistry for whatever reason is not there," Shaw said. "It's putting too much pressure on our bench night after night. Our starters were out there allowing them to be comfortable and swing the ball around."
The starters -- and the rest of the team -- let Hayward go off. They chased him off the perimeter only to see him drive to the basket for layups and draw contact.
"I finally knocked down some shots and finished around the rim," Hayward said. "It was a good feeling. Just taking what the defense was giving me."
"We had a little lapse there with the end of the third quarter. We have to get that straightened out a little," Corbin said. "But I thought the group came in at the end and really fought and executed and communicated well on the defensive end and we were able to get some timely baskets and some timely stops."
The biggest defensive victory was holding Denver's starting backcourt scoreless. Nuggets guard Ty Lawson came into the game leading the team in scoring at 19.3 points per game, but he missed six shots from the field while former Jazz guard Randy Foye was 0-for-3 from the floor.
"We did a good job of not letting (Lawson) get all the way to the rim," Utah guard Trey Burke said. "He's so quick, so good at getting to the rim I tried to force him into the big. With Foye, he's a great shooter, so we tried to close out really hard on him and make him put the ball on the ground."
It was the Nuggets' first lead since 4-3.
Denver led 75-73 heading into the fourth after Hamilton's three-point play with 1.6 seconds left in the third.
"We kept our poise, we stayed together," forward Marvin Williams said.
The Jazz started the game by hitting their first four 3-pointers and six of their first shots overall. They built an early 10-point lead but saw the Nuggets cut it to one midway through the second quarter.
NOTES: Nuggets G Ty Lawson returned to the lineup after missing the last week with a strained left hamstring. Lawson, the team's leading scorer at 19.3 points a game, missed the last two games of Denver's six-game Eastern Conference road trip. ... Entering Friday, the Jazz have gone 4-6 since starting the season 1-13. ... Before the game, the Nuggets had a moment to acknowledge the people impacted by the shooting at Arapahoe High School in nearby Littleton. ... The Jazz came into Friday's game ranked first in the NBA in 3-point shooting in December at 45.5 percent (40-for-88). ... Denver's 75 points in Monday's 75-74 victory over the Washington Wizards were the fewest in a win since beating Dallas 75-71 on April 6, 2007.