Wolves 100 – Jazz 98: The Rejected Gift

February 22nd, 2012 | by Evan Hall

Utah Jazz 98

Final

Recap | Box Score

100 Minnesota Timberwolves
Paul Millsap, PF

38 MIN | 10-17 FG | 5-5 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 25 PTS | -4

This was the Millsap that should have been an All-Star. He was an efficient workhorse all night long. Though Millsap received a lot of the blame for the Jazz’s recent slump, he was nothing but a powerful asset tonight.

Gordon Hayward, SG 3

0 MIN | 3-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 7 PTS | +8

It’s easy to fault him for that second missed free throw, but he hadn’t shot one all game. Certainly he shouldn’t have let J.J. Barea’s chest bump affect him, but Barea shouldn’t have gotten away with it. Either way, it confirmed what many of us already suspected: Gordon’s problems are almost always in his head.

Al Jefferson, C

37 MIN | 8-20 FG | 2-2 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 18 PTS | +1

Without delving into the complexities of Big Al’s bipolar performance in those last two minutes, there was not a lot to like about this game. When Al misses 10 or more shots, the Jazz are 1-8, and tonight he missed 12. Big Al is an integral part of the offense but when he’s its focus, the Jazz suffer.

Devin Harris, PG

26 MIN | 3-7 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 10 PTS | +8

If Devin Harris played like this every game, there would be no trade rumors and certainly no dissatisfied fans. He flew up and down the court, manned-up on defense, encouraged the younger guys, and generally acted like he cared about basketball again.

Josh Howard, SF

32 MIN | 8-15 FG | 2-3 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 19 PTS | +5

This was vintage Josh Howard. He was the best player on the floor for some sequences. When he’s playing with that combination of intelligence and casual swagger, he’s a pleasure to watch.

Derrick Favors, FC

12 MIN | 1-2 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS | +3

Favors received limited minutes tonight, but he made the most of them. It was refreshing to see him crash the boards again.

Alec Burks, G

16 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -7

For any depressed Jazz fans, look no further than Alec Burks for a reason to maintain optimism. Burks continues to impress, and tonight he demonstrated his underrated court vision with a few fantastic dimes.

Three Things We Saw

  1. The Jazz’s late-game strategy (which could be roughly summarized with the phrase “Jefferson ISO”) continues to be a major problem. Corbin seems to be susceptible to the collective mental breakdown the players experience down the stretch of close games, because we have yet to see two consecutive, sound offensive sets in the last two minutes of close games. Either Corbin’s drawn-up plays are being ignored by Big Al or the playbook really is as simplistic as it sometimes appears.
  2. The Jazz alternate green unis were stunning as always and during the ugly 4th quarter collapse, they were the only visually pleasing part of the game.
  3. Team defense was the difference between the first three quarters and the fourth. When the Jazz were playing aggressive defense and closing out on shooters, it led to turnovers and fast break buckets. Unfortunately, when that team defense sagged off Minny’s shooters and allowed dribble penetration from Barea and Ridnour, the lead quickly dissipated.

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