The Utah Jazz will feel the sting of this one for nearly a week. The Jazz gave up a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter to fall to division rivals Minnesota Timberwolves, 100-98. Minnesota guard Luke Ridnour made a running floater as time elapsed, giving Utah a losing record (15-17) going into the All-Star break.
After Utah maintained control for three quarters, there was a complete role reversal. The Jazz sported an 83-67 lead with 9:06 left in the game before Minnesota exploded for the win, riding a 35-point fourth quarter.
Top Timberwolves tamed : The Jazz did a fine job containing Minnesota’s main stars, Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. Averaging 25.5 points and 14.2 rebounds per game, two-time All-Star Love was held to just 3 of 14 shooting. He finished with just 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Likewise, rookie sensation Rubio was held to seven points and six assists. He shot just 2 of 7 from the floor and was flustered at times, committing six turnovers.
That was the good news for the Jazz
but role players rose: The bad news: Minnesota’s role players really came to play. Besides knocking down the game-winner, Ridnour scored 17-points while playing against much taller defenders for most of the evening. He also contributed six assists.
Another diminutive guard, J.J. Barea, was huge, as he torched the Jazz perimeter defense with five three-pointers en route to a 22-point, four-assist outing. He was particularly integral in instigating the Timberwolves’ comeback.
The No. 2 pick of 2011, Derrick Williams made some key plays down the stretch. While his rookie season has been up-and-down, Wednesday night was an up. He added 13 points and nine big rebounds.
Good to have you back: Josh Howard had his second straight solid performance. He helped the Jazz get off to a strong start, scoring 14 of his 19 points before the intermission. He was active on defense and provided a lot of energy. An impressive rebounder for a small forward, Howard grabbed six caroms.
Of Minnesota’s 17 turnovers, 15 were due to Utah steals with five players registering two or more.
As has been the case of late, three-point shooting helped seal the Jazz’s fate. Minnesota was torrid, going 11-22 from downtown. Conversely, Utah was a mere one of seven.
The two Jazz bigs continue to see their playing time drop. Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter combined for just 20 minutes of court time. Favors has played just 38 minutes in the past three games, while Kanter has played 30.
Utah had 29 fouls to Minnesota’s 19, resulting in a 38-24 free throws attempted advantage for the Timberwolves.
David Smith is providing instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage this season. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.