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Utah Jazz instant analysis: Jazz escape truly bizarre game with win over Minnesota

Published: Saturday, July 4 2015 8:14 a.m. MDT

Minnesota Timberwolves' Nikola Pekovic of Montenegro, right, has the ball knocked away by Utah Jazz's Al Jefferson (25) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone) (Jim Mone, AP) Minnesota Timberwolves' Nikola Pekovic of Montenegro, right, has the ball knocked away by Utah Jazz's Al Jefferson (25) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone) (Jim Mone, AP)

So many storylines can pervade a 48-minute NBA basketball game. Such is the case with Wednesday’s contest between the Utah Jazz and the Minnesota Timberwolves. In a truly bizarre, somewhat surreal game, the Jazz narrowly escaped with a 97-93 victory.

It was an up-and-down game full of lulls one minute and then flush with flash the next. Apropos for being in frigid Minneapolis, the Jazz were so cold at the start that they could not throw a ball in a lake. Utah finished the first quarter with a season-low 10 points.

Propelled by a motivated bench, the Jazz then turned things around in an exciting, fast-paced 32-point second quarter. The third quarter was fairly even. In the last stanza, the Jazz took a 15-point lead and looked poised to win the game running away.

Ricky Rubio and the Timberwolves had different plans in mind. In a furious flurry, the diminutive point guard set his team up for easy looks via some pinpoint playmaking, while Utah became careless with the ball. It got as close as two points, but thanks to solid free-throw shooting, the Jazz managed to hold on to win a wild game.

Utah Jazz's Paul Millsap, right, shoots over Minnesota Timberwolves' Derrick Williams in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone) (Jim Mone, AP) Utah Jazz's Paul Millsap, right, shoots over Minnesota Timberwolves' Derrick Williams in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone) (Jim Mone, AP)

Revved up Reserves: One storyline that has been consistent for most of the season has been the solid play of a talented Utah bench. Once again, the reserves helped put things back on the right trajectory for the Jazz against an undermanned Timberwolves bench.

It was a quintet off the pine that helped Utah recover from its lethargic start. Alec Burks had one of the most well-rounded performances of his NBA tenure. In 30 minutes, he recorded a career-high seven assists, while adding nine points, six rebounds and a pair of steals. Moreover, he continues to look more and more comfortable as he assumes a greater playmaking responsibility.

With 11 points and five rebounds, DeMarre Carroll brought his standard hustle. Big men Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter played some strong defense while combining for 17 points. And last but not least, Earl Watson chipped in six points, five assists and five rebounds.

Decimated by injuries, Minnesota’s reserves could only muster 12 total points in a cumulative 63 minutes. The T-Wolves shot a lowly 4 of 21 from the floor.

Minnesota Timberwolves' Ricky Rubio (9), of Spain, shoots a layup as Utah Jazz's Paul Millsap defends in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone) (Jim Mone, AP) Minnesota Timberwolves' Ricky Rubio (9), of Spain, shoots a layup as Utah Jazz's Paul Millsap defends in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone) (Jim Mone, AP)

Odds and ends:

• Minnesota is missing Kevin Love, Andrei Kirilenko, Chase Budinger and Brandon Roy and the 49.2 points per game they are averaging.

• The two squads were both cold from outside, joining efforts in a 7-33 night from 3-point range.

• Utah’s starting point guard and small forward, Jamaal Tinsley and Marvin Williams, played just 32 minutes combined, scoring a mere three points.

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 mechakucha1@gmail.com or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232. Topics: Utah Jazz

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