MINNEAPOLIS — Forty-eight hours after beating the Minnesota Timberwolves on their home floor in Salt Lake City, the Utah Jazz were right back competing against them again on Sunday evening.
This time at the Target Center the Jazz handed the Timberwolves another 125-111 loss.
Despite shooting 39.6 percent in the first half, the Jazz still led 53-50 at halftime, then caught fire in the second half, shooting 71.1 percent to seal their third consecutive victory.
Utah (29-22) has won nine of its last 10 games.
“Sometimes you shoot (39) percent and then you shoot 71 percent so I think we were playing the right way,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “The shots were better because of our guards.”
Timberwolves star Andrew Wiggins erupted for 35 points with four assists as his team shot 47.2 percent from 3, but Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell went off for 22 of his team-high 29 points in the second half to put the team on his back offensively.
Mitchell started 2-for-12 from the field before coming alive in the second half to go 8-for-10. He also dished out five assists with four boards.
Mitchell has posted at least 24 points in 12 consecutive games, while averaging 29.7 points, 5.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds on 45.8 percent shooting throughout this stretch.
“Just continuing to make the right reads,” Mitchell said. “Making the shots easier for myself, not really taking tough ones. That’s really what kind of got me into the funk at the beginning of the year, so just making it easier on myself and becoming a better passer and playmaker as well.”
Minnesota was playing shorthanded without Derrick Rose (right ankle soreness), Jeff Teague (left foot soreness), Robert Covington (right knee bone bruise) and Tyus Jones (left ankle sprain). Rose exploded for a career-high 50 points in his last home game against the Jazz on Halloween night but could only witness the action from the sidelines as his team suffered a second straight loss to Utah.
However, the Jazz were also missing Dante Exum (left ankle sprain), Raul Neto (left groin sprain) and Thabo Sefolosha (mild right hamstring strain), who all get re-examined this week.
“It’s tough. You obviously want to be at full strength. I’ve said it a number of times before, I’ll never make excuses for anything,” said Timberwolves interim head coach Ryan Saunders. “We’ve got guys who played well. We have competed, too, and I do give our guys a lot of credit for staying in it in that sense.”
Utah led by as many as 14 points on the night and put the game away in the fourth quarter with 63.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc, with big shots from Jae Crowder and Kyle Korver off the bench.
Korver and Crowder were a couple of the seven Jazz players to end with double figures, as Crowder posted 15 points off five treys while Korver added 13 points and three triples.
“We started making some shots and started finding a slow rhythm,” Korver said.
Rudy Gobert took on the tall task of guarding Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, who ended with 22 points, seven assists and six boards, but Gobert held his own with 17 points, four boards, four assists and three swats.
Towns only had four shot attempts during the second half.
Gobert donated $3,000 on behalf of his Rudy’s Kids Foundation to the local Athletes Committed To Educating Students (ACES) nonprofit organization for his block total. He typically donates $1,000 per block to select charities across NBA cities when the Jazz are on the road.
Ricky Rubio also logged a game-high eight assists with 18 points against his former Timberwolves team. He spent his first six seasons in Minnesota before joining the Jazz via trade.
Jerryd Bayless’ 19 points were a season high as he went 4-for-6 from deep with six assists for Minnesota.1 comment on this story
After the red-hot shooting in the second half, Jazz players darted out of the Target Center to beat the projected snowstorm set to hit the area with another road contest scheduled Wednesday night at Portland.
Guys were in and out of the shower and quick with media to board the team plane on the winter night in freezing cold 4-degree weather with another win under their belt.
“We did a great job getting to the paint in the second half,” said Gobert, who went 7-for-8 from the field. “Sharing the ball and knocking down some shots to get to the rim. We couldn’t get stops, they were making tough shots, but were able to outscore them.”