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Utah Jazz lead the Minnesota Timberwolves at halftime, 49-37

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 22 2012 7:24 p.m. MST

Utah Jazz' Paul Millsap, right, slows up Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Love in the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, in Minneapolis.

Jim Mone, AP

MINNEAPOLIS — This whole starting lineup thing seems to be agreeing with Josh Howard.

The veteran 6-foot-7 forward, filling in when starting guard Raja Bell was forced out of Utah's starting lineup with a nagging injury, scored 13 first-half points, including six straight during a one-man, second-quarter surge that helped the Jazz grab a 49-37 halftime lead over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night at the Target Center.

Howard, averaging 7.6 points per game thus far this season, nearly doubled that with his first-half shooting performance -- shooting 6-of-9 from the field, including 1-of-1 from 3-point range. He also had four rebounds and two assists.

Paul Millsap had 10 points and six rebounds, and former T-Wolves star Al Jefferson aded eight points and five boards. Gordon Hayward and Devin Harris each had six points, and Harris handed out five first-half assists for a Jazz team that shot 49 percent in the first half and held the home-standing Timberwolves to just 30.7 percent shooting -- and a frosty, Minnesota-like 19 percent in the first period.

Kevin Love led the T-wolves with seven points and eight rebounds. Nikola Pekovic also had eight boards but, as the poster boy for his team's frigid first-half shooting, was 0-for-7 from the field.

The Jazz jumped out to a 10-2 lead midway through the first period and extended it to 20-8 late in the quarter.

Jefferson hit two long jumpers to make it 27-13, but with he and Millsap both sent to the bench with a pair of personal fouls apiece, Minnesota managed to stay within 27-15 at the first stop.

Dunks by C.J. Miles and Alec Burks pushed Utah's lead to 39-21 early in the second quarter, but Ricky Rubio and Jose Barea buried back-to-back 3-pointers in an 8-0 run that cut Utah's lead to 39-29.

Then Howard went to work, hitting a jump shot, a driving layup and a turnaround jumper in a personal 6-0 run that made it 45-29 with 2:07 to go in the half.

Barea scored five quick points and Rubio hit another 3 to pull the T-Wolves within 47-37, but Harris hit a layup at the halftime buzzer to give the Jazz at 12-point margin at intermission.

e-mail: rhollis@desnews.com

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