MINNEAPOLIS — Losing to a two-, now three-win team, was indignity enough.
But how they fell to Minnesota, 109-101, here Saturday night at the Target Center was what made digesting defeat even tougher for the Jazz.
Turnover-troubled Utah allowed the Timberwolves an 11-0 run at the end of the first half and an 8-2 burst at the start of the second, then watched as Minnesota scored on 11 of their final 12 possessions — and a four-game Jazz win streak vanished.
"We didn't do a good job of taking care of the ball," said power forward Carlos Boozer, charged with six of Utah's 14 turnovers. "I had six or seven of them, trying to make a pass to a guy that was open — but there were a lot of hands in there.
"We gave them too many fastbreak points off our turnovers — and unfortunately we tried to get back in the game too late," he added. "If we take care of the ball a little better, we probably had a chance to win."
Boozer had a 21-point and 13-rebound double-double, Deron Williams had an 18-point and 11-assist double-double, Mehmet Okur had 16 points and Paul Millsap had another 14 off the bench.
But the only numbers mattering to Jazz coach Jerry Sloan were Minnesota's 22 points scored off turnovers.
"It wasn't like they were beating us to death defensively to be able to get it," Sloan said. "We just threw the ball to them."
Three of Boozer's turnovers came during a critical stretch early in the third quarter.
That's when Minnesota — picking up where it left off before the break, a three-minute meltdown Sloan called "killer" — turned what had been a 50-36 Jazz advantage late in the second quarter into a lead of its own.
One came when he stepped out of bounds, and two followed as Boozer tried forcing the ball down low to Williams.
Those miscues caught up with the Jazz, when 3-17 Minnesota — which endured one stretch with losses in 17 of 18 games — broke open what had been a 73-73 tie at the start of the fourth quarter.
The Timberwolves got the first bucket of the fourth from Wayne Ellington, and led the rest of the way as the Jazz — down 91-83 midway through the final period — merely traded baskets late.
"We had a couple miscommunications where we turned the ball over, and a lot of them led to dunks," Williams said. "That's something that cannot happen, especially on the road."
It's when they're out of EnergySolutions Arena that the Jazz really struggle.
Saturday was no different for an 11-8 Utah team that — fresh off a 5-1 homestand, and with victories in seven of its previous eight games — is now 3-5 away from home.
"You get comfortable at home," Williams said, "and then you've got to go on the road, and you start panicking a little bit.
"We did a good job of executing, for the most part," he added. "We just didn't shoot the open shots, and when we're not shooting the open shots everything gets clogged up and it's hard to operate."
Especially when an opponent packs it in like the Timberwolves did on Boozer, who's scored 20-plus points in seven straight games.
"They paid a lot of attention to me," Boozer said. "I had three or four guys, two or three guys, around me.
"I was trying to get it to my shooters, but we just didn't hit a lot of shots early. ... That wasn't why we lost the game, though. We lost the game because we turned the ball over too much."
That, and because Minnesota — which got a game-high 23 points from Ryan Gomes, 16 points from flashy rookie point Jonny Flynn and a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double from Al Jefferson — had big man Kevin Love playing for just the second time this season.
Love, back following surgery on a fractured hand, had an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double and couldn't be contained by Okur or Boozer.
"He knows how to play basketball," Sloan said of the second-year big from UCLA. "He passes the ball, he sets screens. He does whatever it takes to try to play the game.
"It's not that difficult," Sloan added.
"But we make it difficult because we think we have to do something sensational. He just plays, and never gets off the floor. Those guys play for years and years in this league."41 comments on this story
Sloan — whose club faces a challenging week ahead with games against San Antonio, the Los Angeles Lakers (twice) and Orlando — has coached for years and years, so he knows.
The Jazz know, too, what was lost because of their play Saturday.
"This was a game we could have won," Boozer said, "and to let it slip out of our hands the way we did — it feels worse with what their season has been like."