After their recent struggles, the Utah Jazz would have welcomed a win of any variety. Needless to say, a comfortable victory over a division rival was a pleasant post-holidays present. Utah was never truly threatened as it defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 106-84 in its first game of 2013.
Despite getting solid rest entering the contest (three consecutive days off and just five games the past two weeks), the Timberwolves seemed sluggish, especially when compared to the rather energetic overall display by their opponent. Utah bested Minnesota in nearly every statistical category.
Balanced Basketball: Some members of the media have described the Utah roster as a group of many solid players — but no superstar. That may be the case, if Wednesday was any indicator. The Jazz won in the fashion they have enjoyed in many of their 16 wins this season. In other words, it was a collective effort.
No one player starred, but many excelled for Utah head coach Tyrone Corbin. Six players managed to score in double figures, while two others added eight. Swingman Gordon Hayward was aggressive, as he paced the team with 17 points (6-of-12 field goals, including 3-of-4 3-pointers). Enes Kanter also had one of his best games of the season, as the Turkish center tossed in 15 points of his own.
Utah also saw Paul Millsap (14 points), Al Jefferson (12 points), Jamaal Tinsley (12 points, his highest-scoring game since Nov. 26) and Marvin Williams (11 points in his return back from a one-game absence) were the others who chipped in.
Likewise, 11 Utah players played between 13 and 28 minutes, while eight corralled four or more rebounds. Ten individuals sported a positive plus-minus mark.
This and That:
• In a much-anticipated return, Minnesota forward and former Jazz star Andrei Kirilenko registered a common AK-47 stat line: 12 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots.
• Fresh off the news that starting point guard Mo Williams will be out six weeks or so with his thumb injury, Utah’s fill-ins — Tinsley and Earl Watson — turned in nice outings. In addition to his dozen points, Tinsley collected six rebounds and dished out four assists. Watson had nine assists of his own.
• The Timberwolves' quintet of Kevin Love, Alexey Shved, Luke Ridnour, Dante Cunningham and J.J. Barea combined to shoot just 14 of 52 (6.9 percent).
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.
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