Associated Press
Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Love, left, shoots over Utah Jazz's Jeremy Evans in the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 11, 2011 in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS — Deficit-wise, the Utah Jazz's Friday night flop against the Minnesota Timberwolves was not the worst loss of the season.

There were those 29-point blowouts on the road at New Orleans and against the Los Angeles Lakers.

So, Utah has that going for it.

And, hey, those came with a Hall of Fame coach on the sideline and a two-time All-Star point guard on the court.

But it'd be hard to argue the fact that the Jazz reached a new on-court season-low — not that the Target Center crowd minded.

How bad can this season get for the Jazz?

This bad: 17-win Minnesota 122, playoff-hopeful Utah 101.

"Can you think of one of our worst (losses)?" Jazz forward C.J. Miles asked. "I can't think of one of our worst ones."

Probably because there hasn't been one.

"We dropped our heads and felt sorry ourselves and they picked it up," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "I wouldn't have thought we would display that kind of effort tonight."

Or lack thereof, to be precise.

The Jazz fell behind by 19 points in the first half, then showed some life to trim that Minnesota lead to two.

But five consecutive missed free throws by Utah and a sucker-punch of a monstrous 29-6 third-quarter run by the Timberwolves later, and the Jazz were suffering as badly as the guy who willingly allowed Crunch the mascot to wax his chest for a Klondike bar.

Similar to Monday — when Utah fell 131-109 in New York — it wasn't the defeat that most bothered Corbin.

It was how this devastating defeat happened.

And how little most Jazz players did to prevent another humiliating setback during a playoff chase — and this time against one of the worst teams in the NBA.

"I don't think our effort or our focus was as good as it should've been," Corbin said. "And we have to get better."

And fast.

The Jazz, now 34-32 and two full games out of a playoff spot with 16 contests left, are stumbling into tonight's rematch with their old buddies in Chicago.

"If we go in there and play like that tomorrow, we're going to lose by 60," Miles said. "I mean, I'm just being honest. ... If we go in there and guys think it was embarrassing, (tonight) it's going to be bad."

Utah's opening five might not want to compare its boxscore to BYU's simultaneous MWC tourney win over New Mexico.

How's this for a sobering stat: Jimmer 52, Jazz starters 45.

There are more stunning ones.

While allowing Minnesota to shoot 54.8 percent and struggling mightily on defense, none of Utah's biggest offensive contributors gave much on that end, either.

Al Jefferson scored nine points, Devin Harris added just eight points and two assists, Andrei Kirilenko contributed eight in his return and Paul Millsap sat on the bench due to his knee injury.

Plus, the Jazz had 18 turnovers, were outrebounded 42-35 and fell behind by as many as 31.

"Minnesota played like they were the ones fighting for the playoff spot tonight. We didn't," said Jefferson, who scored 23 points here in December in his return to his old stomping grounds.

"A little of that I take on myself," he added. "I tip my hat off to the coaching staff over there. They did a good job on me tonight, took me out of my game, got (me) a little frustrated."

Jefferson gave more credit to Minnesota big man Darko Milicic for doing "a wonderful job" on defense. The oft-criticized T-Wolves center was also one of Minnesota players in double figures — a group that included Kevin Love's 53rd consecutive double-double of 24 points and 14 rebounds.

"We just didn't have that effort — me all the way down," Jefferson continued. "And we can't do that if we're trying to make the playoffs."

Corbin doesn't believe the Jazz have given up on what has been a roller-coaster season.

Two days after the Jazz had a jubilant locker room, the disappointed Corbin had this message for his struggling squad:

"You can let this thing linger, and it can be for the rest of the season. Or you can make it one game, pick it up and go back and display a different effort (tonight) and give ourselves a chance to win.'"

Jazz veterans might take a cue from the play of the team's youngsters.

Three Utah rookies scored season/career-highs, with Gordon Hayward leading the Jazz with 18 points, Jeremy Evans throwing down 14 in spectacular dunking fashion and NBA newcomer Marcus Cousin chipping in four in his second game. Derrick Favors added nine points and eight boards.

"They (rookies) played hard. They made some mistakes, but they did play hard," said Corbin, trying to find a silver lining on the lousy night. "They played with some effort and some sense of urgency — I like to see that. But overall, the effort of the entire team was disappointing."

Added Hayward about his professional milestone: "The win is all that I care about, and we lost so it doesn't matter."


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