Wolves Dominate Jazz, 98-72

Wolves Dominate Jazz, 98-72

The Minnesota Timberwolves ended their three-game losing streak on Saturday night against the Utah Jazz and it wasn’t because of a Minnesota offense that scored 98 points. It was because of a defense that allowed just 72 points and forced the Jazz to shoot 28.8 percent from the field.

“We had good communication defensively,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said after the game. “You know, we were struggling offensively at the start, but we were making stops and that got us going and we carried it through the first half.”

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Wolves vs. Jazz

The team’s offense wasn’t spectacular in the first quarter (the Wolves shot just 36.4 percent), but either was Utah’s. Utah shot 30 percent from the field as the Wolves exited the first quarter with a 23-14 lead. Kevin Love led Minnesota with nine points and eight boards. Nikola Pekovic added seven, while Kevin Martin scored five. Ricky Rubio was 0-for-4 from the field, but did have five assists. Utah as a team had just four. Derrick Favors led Utah with six points.

The Wolves expanded on that lead and the Jazz continued to struggle from the field. The term “struggle” might be generous. The Jazz shot just 2-of-19 in the quarter, good for nine points. Minnesota led 51-23 at half behind 16 points from Martin and 13 from Pekovic. Love added another double-double to his resume, scoring 10 points while hauling in 10 rebounds. Rubio scored four points in the quarter and went into half with six assists and four rebounds. Favors led the Jazz with eight points.

Fun fact: Due to Ronny Turiaf’s three fouls, Gorgui Dieng was able to see some time in the second quarter. Dieng turned 24 on Saturday. He played four minutes in the quarter and grabbed one rebound.

The Jazz started the third quarter on a 15-9 run, but Minnesota responded real fast, ending the quarter with a 79-45 lead, giving Adelman a chance to rest some of his starters and give the second unit an opportunity. In the fourth, Shabazz Muhammad, Luc Mbah a Moute, Dieng, Dante Cunningham, Ronny Turiaf, Alexey Shved and J.J. Barea all saw time.

“I liked the fourth quarter,” Adelman joked after the game.

The win was a good way for the Wolves to blow off some recent steam and hopefully start a run in the Western Conference to be back in the playoff conversation.

Pekovic led Minnesota with 27 points and 14 rebounds.

Love added 18 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. Martin finished with 20 points. Rubio had a nice all-around game, scoring six points to go with nine assists, eight rebounds and a steal. Shved led the second unit with 10 points.

Favors was the only Jazz player to hit double-digits, scoring 18 points to go with 10 rebounds. Rookie Trey Burke was just 2-of-10 from the field.

The Wolves now sit at 19-21 overall, good for 11th place in the West, 3.5 games back from the Phoenix Suns for eighth place.

Leader of the Pack: Nikola Pekovic

Everything was going great for Pekovic on Saturday, including a huge third quarter in which Pek scored 14 points and hauled in eight rebounds. Pekovic finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds while shooting 12-of-17 from the field.

“Really impressed with Pek,” Adelman said. “I just thought he really went after it. He challenged Favors at the other end, he rebounded the ball, he just had for a back-to-back game, you can see he’s really getting accustomed to playing minutes.”

Highlight of the Night

With 4:34 left in the first quarter, tricky Ricky Rubio drove the lane and made a nice behind-the-back pass to Nikola Pekovic for the easy layup. The Target Center seemed impressed. The layup gave the Wolves an 18-12 lead. It was already Rubio’s fifth assist and the game and Pekovic’s seventh point.

The Numbers Game

  • Utah started the game 4-of-7. The Jazz made just two of their next 19 shots.

  • The Wolves have had 10 games this season in which they have led by 30 or more points. That’s the highest mark in the NBA.

  • Minnesota had 50 points in the paint compared to Utah’s mark of 18.

  • With 18 points and 13 rebounds, Love recorded his league-leading 34th double-double of the season.

  • Postgame Podcast

    Wolves 98, Jazz 72

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  • The 23 first-half points allowed by Minnesota is the lowest first-half total in team history and second lowest for one half.

  • Utah shot 28.8 percent in the game. That’s the team’s lowest percentage of the season.

  • Quotable

    “It’s so hard because you have a game like this, and then you turn around and have a clunker and then you have another good game, there’s no consistency where you can say ‘we need that.’” – Wolves head coach Rick Adelman on his decisions when it comes to changing up the rotation.

    Next Up

    The Timberwolves start a four-game road stretch starting on Tuesday as they travel to take on the Jazz at 8 p.m. The game will be aired on Fox Sports North and WCCO 830-AM.

    For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com