Utah Jazz instant analysis: Minnesota still too hot to handle, Utah falls again
Matt Gade, Deseret News
Saturday saw the Utah Jazz set some franchise marks for futility. While they improved Tuesday in a rematch with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the end result was the same. Minnesota’s high octane offense was once again on display as it handily defeated Utah 112-97 at EnergySolutions Arena.
The Jazz bounced back from their horrid 28.8 percent shooting outing, actually outshooting Minnesota 47.1 percent to 45.6 percent. The difference was the free-throw line — where the Timberwolves were +12 — and the 3-point line, as they made three more trifectas than Utah.
The Jazz welcomed back Gordon Hayward, who had missed the previous five games, but were without Derrick Favors. Without their defensive anchor, the Minnesota frontcourt had another dominant encore. The Timberwolves set the tone early with a 34-16 first quarter and were never threatened.
Stellar starters: While the Minnesota bench’s contributions were decent, the Timberwolves' starters were too much to handle for their Utah counterparts. The quintet each reached double-figures (with four of them scoring at least 18) as they outscored Utah’s opening five 85-48. The frontcourt battle was particularly one-sided. Minnesota’s bigs simply dominated Utah’s, outscoring them 56-12. Kevin Love nearly recorded a triple-double with 19 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. Nikola Pekovic threw in 18 points and nine rebounds. Corey Brewer bounced back from a two-point effort to put 19 on the board. Conversely, the trio of Enes Kanter, Marvin Williams and Richard Jefferson managed to score just four apiece.
Ricky Rubio was brilliant as he orchestrated the Timberwolves' offense. He doled out 13 assists with only one turnover while adding 11 points and five steals. Sharpshooter Kevin Martin was a bit off, but he too finished with 18 points.
Hayward picked up where he left off prior to his hip flexor injury, tallying 27 points, five assists and five rebounds in a losing effort. Trey Burke had nine points and five assists.
This and that:
• The Jazz bench performed much better, outscoring Utah’s starters with 49 points. Minnesota’s reserves had 27.
• Rookie center Rudy Gobert played a career-high 27 minutes and put eight points, six rebounds and three blocked shots on the ledger.
• With 31 assists and eight turnovers, the Timberwolves had a 3.88 assist to turnover ratio.
• Minnesota combo guard Alexey Shved left the game with a broken nose suffered in the first half.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also writes for Salt City Hoops (ESPN's Jazz affiliate). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.
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