SALT LAKE CITY — An All-Star worthy effort from Paul Millsap helped the Utah Jazz get back on track Saturday night.
Millsap scored 26 points to lead the Jazz to a 108-98 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Jazz have momentum again after Thursday's tough loss to Dallas, and are scoring well again on their report card.
GUARDS: Devin Harris was back in the starting lineup, and wasn't even booed by his home crowd. That's a plus. He played a lot better after the disaster against Dallas, but notably got fewer minutes than Earl Watson. Harris, after committing a turnover 11 seconds into the game, played well and finished with nine points on 4-for-5 shooting. Raja Bell is finding his stroke, as he went 5-for-6 and tied his season-high with 12 points. Bell again played well on defense. Ricky Rubio dazzled in his Utah debut, finishing with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Luke Ridnour hit some key shots for the Timberwolves. Give Minnesota a slight edge, but Bell and Harris did nothing to put Utah in danger of losing. Grade: B
FORWARDS: Millsap was outstanding, and outplayed Kevin Love. Millsap had one more rebound than Love, who for the first time this season did not record a double-double. He had 15 points and eight rebounds. Gordon Hayward continues to struggle shooting the ball, but is helping in other ways. He had six assists and five rebounds. Wes Johnson was tough for Minnesota, finishing with 13 points and six rebounds. Grade: A-
CENTERS: Al Jefferson was solid against his old team, finishing with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Darko Milicic had 10 points and four rebounds and disappeared in the third quarter. He did ride a mean stationary bike in the fourth quarter. Grade: A
BENCH: C.J. Miles scored in double figures for the third straight game. He's playing aggressively on offense and sparking the second unit. Watson continues to run the offense well, as he had 10 points to go along with seven assists. Rookie Derrick Williams scored a career-high 15 points for the Timberwolves, and Wayne Ellington scored 10. Utah's bench had the advantage though, outscoring Minnesota's reserves 39-33. Grade: B+
COACHING: Tyrone Corbin interestingly played Harris and Watson together in the final two minutes and it seemed to be an arrangement that could work. Watson is the better facilitator and Harris is a good combo guard. He also played Watson five more minutes than Harris. He just seems to have the pulse of this team, and he had a great gameplan in slowing Love down. Grade: A
OVERALL: The Jazz were sluggish to start the game, and that was understandable after a draining loss to Dallas on Thursday. But they found their way out of it, and overcame a much-improved team that wouldn't go away silently. Utah's rebounding edge over Minnesota was a big factor in its win, and it also shot the ball well. There is little to nitpick in this victory. Grade A-