Too Little, Too Late as Jazz Lose to Minnesota

November 13th, 2017 | by Steve Godfrey

Donovan Mitchell (24 points) was a bright spot for the Jazz. (Game still)

The Utah Jazz were hoping for better luck against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night, or even a case of déjà vu in the form of a closer game. Instead, they were on the wrong end of a blowout.

Remember, the first matchup versus these pesky Wolves on October 20 was a three-point loss for the Jazz after they battled the whole night, proving they belong in the Northwest Division crown conversation. A month later, much has changed for the now 6-8 Jazz.

The Recap: Cloudy With Some Scattered Sunshine

After Thabo Sefolosha started for the injured Rudy Gobert on Saturday night, Jonas Jerebko got the nod against Minnesota. Donovan Mitchell continues to take the lead at shooting guard while Rodney Hood looks for his shot and his confidence in a bench role.

The high point for Utah came when a three-second violation in the lane gave Ricky Rubio a free throw and an early 1-0 lead for the Jazz. After that, Utah never led again. Minnesota went on a 15-3 run in the first six minutes, highlighted by Karl Anthony-Towns blocking Mitchell on one end and dunking on the other. Eventually, the T-Wolves took a 33-14 lead after the first quarter of play. Without Gobert down low, and Favors looking out of place on defense, Minnesota bigs Towns and Taj Gibson combined for 18 points in that first stanza, outscoring the entire Jazz team. Towns even made a little history:

The salt in the wound is the fact that Minnesota holds a 108.9 defensive rating, good for 27th best in the NBA. In simpler terms, they aren’t that good on defense. Yet, the Jazz shot 29 percent in the quarter, 0-for-6 from deep, and committed five turnovers. It wasn’t the start or the energy Jazz coach Quin Snyder was looking for.

The energy came out in bursts during the second quarter, where the Jazz held Minnesota without a field goal for close to four minutes and Hood even nailed back-to-back threes with a minute remaining before the half. Jeff Teague took whatever momentum the Jazz were building and extinguished it with his own three a second before the intermission, giving the Wolves a 57-42 halftime lead. The Jazz shot 5-for-19 from deep, 26 percent, while Minnesota was steady at 6-for-12 or 50 percent. Towns led the way with a near double-double after 24 minutes with 12 points, 8 rebounds, and a block and a steal for good measure, too.

The lead remained in 20-plus territory for most of the third quarter and start of the fourth, but Raul Neto came in to give the Jazz bursts of life and Alec Burks continued to knock down threes (53% for the season).  Mitchell kept playing hard, even leading the Jazz in a run that cut the deficit from 26 to 13. Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau got a little nervous as the lead dwindled and put in his starters. Snyder didn’t flinch and let Neto, Mitchell, Royce O’Neale, Jerebko, and Ekpe Udoh close the game. That unit led a rally, played with passion, scrapped and battled until the closing ticks to eventually give the Jazz a 33-21 fourth court advantage.

It was just too little, too late as the Jazz still lost by double-digits, 109-98.

Quote of the night

  • As the Jazz rallied, Matt Harpring made the call: “If they weren’t down by 26, this would be a ball game,” and even laughed at himself for how that analysis sounded.

Biggest Goose Egg

Joe Ingles came up empty in two of his most important categories: points and steals. He took four threes, missing all of them, and finished with a minus-24, the worst on the team. When you are already down a defensive anchor, it’s hard to make a dent when your long-armed, aggressive wing defender comes up empty, too.

The Spida

Mitchell was tasked with taking on Jimmy Butler, who put up a smooth 21 points with 10 assists. However, Mitchell held his own on several occasions and made Butler take, and hit, some contested, tough jumpers. On the other end, Mitchell’s shot still falls only intermittently (3/9 from deep), but it looks smooth. He still led the Jazz in scoring, which he has done in four of the last six games, and made a concerted effort to get to the rim and get other guys involved. Play D on the opposing team’s best perimeter player, lead the team in scoring, be aggressive, and get everyone involved. For a rookie, check.

Stats of the Night

  • The Jazz started just 1-for-10 from deep, but ended at a meh-kinda-sorta-decent 35 percent clip. They made 14 attempts, four more than Minnesota, but the Jazz attempted an astonishing 40 attempts.

  • The Jazz made 10 of 11 from the foul line, which is awesome. But Minnesota shot 25/29 which is a little more awesome.

Play of the night

  • The offensivee nominee goes to Alec Burks who slashed and danced his way off a timely Hood screen to get to the hoop for a slam. Mitchell had some tough layups and slick crossovers, but AB gets the nod tonight.
  • It wasn’t called a goal-tend, so Favors and his long robotic arms get the vote for the defensive play of the game.

Looking ahead

After a convincing 114-106 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night, where Derrick Favors began his resurgence tour with a 24 point, 12 rebound outing, things were looking up. Perhaps the team could survive without Rudy, perhaps momentum was building. Favors regressed on Monday night, registering nine points and 10 boards, while Towns had his way in the post. It doesn’t get any easier for Favors as the Jazz next match up with Kristaps Porzingis and the New York Knicks on Wednesday (5:30 mountain time tip). The Jazz begin a four-game east coast trip, perhaps discovering their offense along the way.

Steve Godfrey

Steve studied journalism and English, and now teaches in Northern Utah. He also blogs at thetorturedfan.com. He joined the Salt City Hoops team at the start of the 2017-18 season to connect with more Jazz fans and find a way to apply his passion for writing and for basketball.

One Comment

  1. Spencer says:

    Unfortunately, the Jazz have only two players who have the combination of talent, confidence and skill to be starters on a great team. Gobert and Mitchell.

    The good news is they are both locked into contracts for a long time. Hood can’t get out of his own head. He’s a bit of a whimp. Great guy and nice player when he is hitting. Everyone else needs to be made available for picks or young prospects with the potential to be really good.

    If there were some way to trick Toronto in to trading Og Anunoby for Hood, I’d be estatic. If somehow we can convince someone to give us a first round pick for any of Rubio, Burks, Ingles or any of the bench guys. We can surely fill out 8-15 on the roster each year, our problem is we are filling need guys who have the potential to be 1-5 guys.

    Toronto has done a real nice job of shooting for talent in the first round and they have some pretty talented young guys even though they are always in the back end of the round.

    Utah has done well also since the Trey Burke debacle (Why, why, why pick a below average athlete with below average skills at #10 while a Giannis Antekumbo talent is sitting there!!!) Mitchel and Gobert are hits. Hood and Exum are good upside guys who could still turn into something.

    Wish we could have come away with Og Anunoby or Kuzma with that second first round pick.

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