Utah Jazz get contributions from everyone to end losing streak with victory over Timberwolves (+video)
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — For the Jazz, this was just what the doctor ordered — in more ways than one.
First, the "doc" ordered surgery on Mo Williams' injured right thumb, which could sideline Utah's starting point guard at least 6-8 more weeks.
Then, in light of that discouraging news, Williams' Jazz teammates went out and did precisely what any good doctor (or coach) would prescribe as the perfect cure for whatever's ailing you — in Utah's case, a three-game losing spell.
They played with a with a terrific all-for-one-and-one-for-all esprit de corps, getting contributions from just about everybody in a Jazz uniform to trounce the Minnesota Timberwolves, 106-84, Wednesday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
"They did a great job, everybody just being ready, understanding the game plan and going out and executing," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said of his team, which improved to 16-17 overall by snapping that three-game tailspin in style. "... I thought the guys did a great job of just understanding the sense of urgency.
"This was a great win tonight. You know, it showed us what we can do if we concentrate on what we have to do. And this is who we are going to have, guys, and we can't feel sorry for ourselves. We can't look around the corner and see what's going to happen.
"This is who we have and we have to figure out how we can be as good as we can be with this group right now," he said.
And in Wednesday's win, "this group right now" proved to be mighty potent.
Gordon Hayward had 17 points off the bench to lead six Jazz players in double figures. Enes Kanter added 15 points and a team-leading eight rebounds, as eight Utah players grabbed four or more boards.
Paul Millsap chipped in with 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting; Jamaal Tinsley — taking over the starting point guard duties in Williams' absence — had a dozen points, six rebounds and three assists, and Al Jefferson also scored 12 points with five boards and four blocks.
Marvin Williams was also in double digits with 11 points, with Derrick Favors and Alec Burks both scoring eight. DeMarre Carroll contributed seven rebounds to Utah's 49-41 advantage on the boards, and Earl Watson dished out a game-high nine assists as everyone did a nice job of getting into the act in Utah's lopsided win.
"We've got a lot of depth on this team," Hayward said. "It's obviously a big blow to us that we lost Mo, but we've got two veteran point guards that have been through it all, so we're going to have to lean on them a little bit while Mo's out."
Tinsley, who will share the primary point guard responsibilities with Watson until Williams returns, is a 10-year NBA veteran who knows full well his role on this team.
"To me, it's just going out there and playing the right way," he said, "making sure we get a good shot every time down the floor, and me valuing the ball by not turning the ball over, making a pass and then another pass for a bucket.
"One of our best players went down, and other guys get an opportunity to play. I don't think any one of us wanted that to happen with Mo, but we've got to figure out a way to win ballgames now with him out.
"I'm ready. I'm in shape," Tinsley said of seeing extended playing time, "and when my number's called, I'm always ready to go out there and play hard, compete and do whatever it takes to help us win ballgames."
After Minnesota led by a narrow 24-23 margin at the end of the first quarter, Kanter and Hayward came in off the Utah bench and immediately made a positive impact.
Kanter hit a jumper and threw down a dunk, and Hayward scored on a dunk of his own, thanks to a slick lob pass from Watson. Then Kanter came up with a steal and dunk, followed by a pair of free throws, and Hayward slammed home a dunk of his own — on an unselfish assist by Kanter — to help Utah move out to a 10-point lead, 40-30, midway through the second quarter.
Jefferson's short jumper just before the halftime buzzer sounded gave Utah a 53-45 lead at intermission, and then the Jazz opened the second half with an 11-0 run to open up a 19-point lead early in the third quarter. Utah led by as many as 23, and never by less than 13, after that.
"We didn't want to relax at all; we didn't want to let these (Minnesota) guys get going," Corbin said of his team's spurt to start the third period. "We wanted to do as much as we could defensively to be aggressive and make them play against our half-court defense. ... We kept getting opportunities because we kept getting stops."
Kevin Love and Alexey Shved led the cold-shooting Timberwolves (14-14) with 13 points apiece, while former Jazzman Andrei Kirilenko added 12 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
AK went 4 of 7 from the field and was the only Minnesota player to make more shots than he missed on a night when the T-Wolves shot a frigid Minnesota-in-January-like 34.5 percent from the field.
And although Utah snapped out of its recent slump with a solid performance on both ends of the floor, the Jazz know they must continue to try and stay together and play together in order to turn things around as they move forward this season.
"It's going to be tough for us," Corbin said of the upcoming lengthy absence of Mo Williams' leadership and toughness. "We have quality guys on this club, and we have high-character guys that understand that we all have to pick it up to be effective.
"Mo's a big part of who we are, and we're gonna miss him, but we have to pick it up in his absence."
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