Game Day: Utah Jazz at Minnesota Timbervolves (2/22/12)
By Noey Kupchan
Posted Jan 22 2012 12:23AM
The Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz have both fallen below the .500 mark.
Only one of the clubs will be able to even its record before the All-Star break.
The Timberwolves and Jazz look to regroup Wednesday night in Minnesota in their final game before this weekend's festivities.
After leading by as many as 14 points early, Minnesota (16-17) saw its three-game winning streak snapped with Monday's 103-101 overtime loss at Denver. The Timberwolves had a chance to tie the game after stealing an inbounds pass with 3.9 seconds remaining in the extra session, but Martell Webster drove in for a dunk instead of pulling up for a 3-point attempt.
"If I had to do it over again, yeah, I'd probably pull up for a jump shot," Webster said. "But what was going through my mind was go to the rim and possibly get fouled. The contingency to that shot was get a bucket, get a foul, they miss free throws and we get another shot. It didn't work out that way."
The Jazz (15-16) also let one slip away Monday, suffering their ninth loss in 12 games with a 106-102 defeat at home to San Antonio.
"It's a tough loss, especially the position we've been in, especially the last (12) games," backup point guard Earl Watson said. "It's tough. All you can do is keep playing hard, keep doing the best you can, keep pushing forward."
Utah also fell 101-85 at Houston on Sunday.
"The last three games (before the break) are very important, so far we're 0-2," said Al Jefferson, who posted 20 points and 11 rebounds Monday for his fifth double-double in six games. "We gotta try to finish this one at the .500 mark. Minnesota's playing well right now, we just gotta go in there and find a way to win."
Jefferson, who spent three seasons with Minnesota from 2007-10, has since led the Jazz to four wins in five meetings against his former team. He had 18 points and 12 boards in a 108-98 home victory Jan. 21 while helping limit Timberwolves star Kevin Love to 15 points and eight rebounds.
Love, who's recorded an NBA-leading 29 double-doubles in just 31 games, compiled 22 points and 13 rebounds versus the Nuggets on Monday but went 7 of 22 from the field. The two-time All-Star is shooting 31.1 percent over his last two contests.
The Timberwolves had dropped four of five home meetings in this series before prevailing 122-101 on March 11 while holding Jefferson to nine points and 4-of-13 shooting.
Minnesota is 9-2 at the Target Center when holding opponents under 100 points. Utah has dropped seven of its last eight road games, and is averaging 91.6 points away from home.
The Timberwolves could be without starting center Nikola Pekovic after he sprained his right ankle Monday. Pekovic had been averaging 21.0 points and 11.6 rebounds over his previous five games before getting hurt. Fellow center Darko Milicic is also uncertain to be available after sitting out against Denver due to a stomach ailment.
Utah shooting guard Raja Bell could miss a second straight game after re-injuring his right adductor.
Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited