MINNEAPOLIS — The Jazz gave a solid effort Wednesday night in Minneapolis but lost at the buzzer to Luke Ridnour and the Minnesota Timberwolves (17-17). Utah (15-17) was led by Paul Millsap, who scored 25 points.
Guards: Gordon Hayward slipped to the two-guard position in place of Raja Bell to give a mediocre effort (seven points, three turnovers). He also let Minnesota's Ridnour (17 points, six assists) blow by him for the game-winning floater. Devin Harris was solid with 10 points and eight assists and Earl Watson went just 1-4 from the field but delivered five dimes. GRADE: C-
Forwards: Paul Millsap provided beastly play with 25 points and and nine assists in 38 minutes while holding star forward Kevin Love to 3-14 shooting. Josh Howard was also splendid offensively, breaking out of a long slump with 19 points and six rebounds before fouling out in his first start of the season. His 32 minutes were more than 11 minutes longer than his per-game average. GRADE: A-
Centers: Al Jefferson's 18 points were not nullified by a big offensive game from his Minnesota counterpart as Nikola Pekovic went just 3-11 from the field, though he did make 9 of 10 from the charity stripe as Jefferson continued to overuse his hands defensively. Jefferson also pulled down 11 boards. GRADE: B
Bench: The Utah reseves were outscored by a stunning 42-19 margin as Minnesota guard J.J. Barea scored 22 points — nearly 12 above his average — on 7-12 shooting in 26 minutes. Minnesota's Derrick Williams also added 13 points and nine rebounds. No one stood out from the Jazz bench, though it was encouraging to see Alec Burks play 16 minutes and shoot 3-5 from the field. GRADE: D
Overall: The Jazz truly did offer a solid performance, but it wasn't in the cards. Though they shot a respectable 46 percent from the field and committed just nine turnovers, they continued to demostrate their struggles from distance (1-7) while playing awful perimeter defense as the Timberwolves shot a blistering 11-22 from three-point land. It didn't help that they were out-rebounded 48-41. GRADE: C+
Rhett Wilkinson is a journalism and communication studies major at Utah State University. He has previously been an intern for the Deseret News. He can be reached at [email protected]o.com or at Twitter: wilklogan