SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz fans witnessed one of the best performances in Kevin Love’s NBA career on Saturday night.
So there was that.
There were also some laughs and smiles during the Kiss Cam portion of the night at EnergySolutions Arena.
And that wacky and wild Bear, man, did he plaster some fans with Silly String. He doused a guy wearing a Timberwolves jersey with a fire extinguisher, too.
On top of that ... um ... well ... huh.
Did we mention that historic night by three-time All-Star big man Kevin Love?
Yep, it was that kind of night — a scrape the bottom of the barrel for highlights kind of night — for the Jazz and their fans as they suffered through a 121-104 shellacking by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“(There) wasn’t a lot of positives tonight in this game, and that’s the disheartening thing about it,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “We’ve got a lot of basketball to play. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to come back and try to get another win streak going.”
With their lifeless showing (no-showing?) on Saturday, the Jazz (19-35) showed that they’ve still got losing streaks in them. This was Utah’s third consecutive loss, marking the fifth time during this rough rebuilding season in which the team has dropped at least three games in a row.
Making this particular losing skid sting even more is how it’s coming right after the Jazz actually put together their first three-game winning streak of the season heading into the All-Star break.
Even Marvin Williams, who’s been Mr. Positive all season, used the word “frustrating” three times while answering one question.
“You lose three in a row and that’s frustrating because we’ve been doing it so much all year,” Williams said. “It is very frustrating to play so well one week, literally, and the next week you just turn around and drop three games in a row. We were in great positions to win (against Brooklyn on Wednesday and Portland on Friday), and we dropped both of those games. It does become frustrating.”
The most frustrating aspect of Saturday’s game was the way the Jazz floundered while trying (allegedly) to play defense against Minnesota without starting center Derrick Favors patrolling the paint.
Love, starting at center against Enes Kanter because of injuries on both sides, had his way inside and out. The 6-10 big man made 11 of 20 shots, hit 6 of 10 from deep range and scored 37 points.
Not only that, but the sixth-year pro grabbed 12 rebounds and looked like he could be the Vikings’ next man behind center while dishing out 10 assists, including multiple full-court heaves.
“We’ve been talking about it all year that my parents never let me play football. It was my way of being quarterback out there,” Love said of his long passes to Corey Brewer and Co. “Tonight, they (the Jazz) didn’t do a fantastic job of getting back.”
Fantastic was just one superlative fitting of Love’s performance.
“Kevin Love was unbelievable,” T-Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. “He’s incredible.”
“He’s a really good player. He’s an All-Star,” Kanter said. “In the end, he made some crazy shots. I just can’t do nothing about it.”
That was just part of the cause for Jazz frustration.
Frustrating: The T-Wolves had 24 fast-break points to just 13 for the Jazz.
Frustrating: The T-Wolves outscored Utah 50-38 in the paint.
Frustrating: The T-Wolves outrebounded the home team 49-34.
Frustrating: The T-Wolves went ahead 59-49 at halftime and never let Corbin’s crew get within single digits the entire second half.
Frustrating: The Jazz fell to 0-9 without Favors, to 1-24 with Kanter in a starting role; allowed Minnesota to shoot 51.4 percent and trailed by 23; only got five points on 2-of-10 shooting from struggling leading scorer Gordon Hayward (who uncharacteristically hurried out of the locker room as reporters entered); and, well, you get the point.
“I think we started the game really well,” Kanter said of the Jazz, who indeed led 3-0 and then 7-4 before playing like a lottery-bound team. “But then they played pretty hard and we just couldn’t match them.”
Kanter was the bright spot offensively for the Jazz, as he tied his career high with 25 points for the second night in a row. His 11-of-14 shooting was the highlight of this game for Utah.
Well, there was also a sweet fast-break dunk by Jeremy Evans.
The rest of the night?
Keep in mind the theme.
“It’s frustrating when you lose,” Corbin said. “To lose the way we lost tonight wasn’t pleasing at all.”
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