Whenever Utah and Minnesota have stepped on the court together, it feels like fireworks have erupted.
Whether it be pointed comments about others, insane plays, or massive victories, the Jazz and Timberwolves' drama has been well-documented. Sunday night is the last chapter of the rivalry for this season, as they'll face off for the fourth and final time this year.
Still shorthanded, Utah ends a challenging month when it heads to Minnesota to face Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, and the Timberwolves. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. MST.
Capping off a stressful and difficult month, the Jazz will still be without some key players. Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell are listed as out as they're each recovering from injuries suffered in the past few weeks.
While Gobert not playing is expected considering his strained left calf, Mitchell's omission is somewhat surprising. He's on the road trip with the team, and there were hopes that he would be able to take the court this weekend, but he hasn't completely cleared concussion protocol despite being in the latter stages.
Concussions are no small thing, so the Jazz being extra cautious with Mitchell — which is remarkable. Rather than chasing potential victories, the team prioritizes health—something unique considering Utah's lofty expectations for the season.
Even without their two all-stars for the past three games, the Jazz have made tremendous strides on the court. The small-ball lineups are improving, and the team is learning to play well without the leaders on both ends of the court.
Utah has lost its last four games but has been competitive in each one. They've led in the fourth quarter in two of them and had it to single digits in the other two.
"No moral victories, but we feel like we're getting closer and closer to being back to who we are," Mike Conley said. "I think this time is going to make us tougher and stronger mentally. … Especially when we get Donovan and Rudy and everybody back."
With Mitchell and Gobert out, and Bojan Bogdanovic nursing a finger injury, others have had to step up — and Danuel House Jr. has been one of the those who has risen to the occasion.
After it was announced last Friday that House had signed another 10-day contract with the Jazz, he showed again that night why the Jazz are thrilled to have him.
House was an instant spark off the bench in the first half and continued that play throughout the game against Memphis. He finished with a team-high 21 points, shooting 7-of-11 from the field and 4-for-6 from three-point territory.
More than just his offense, House continued to give great effort on defense. His hands were active all game long, and he did an excellent job of communicating, which is particularly impressive considering the Grizzlies' execution of their offense.
Utah will need another team performance when facing the Timberwolves, a young squad gaining confidence the longer the season goes on.
STATSUtah (30-20, 15-10 away / No. 4 Western Conference)Offense*113.7 Points Per Game (No. 2 in NBA)*115.5 Offensive Rating (No. 1 in NBA)
Defense*107.4 Points Per Game (No. 12 in NBA)*109.2 Defensive Rating (No. 12 in NBA)
*Bojan Bogdanovic: 17.8 points / 4.1 rebounds / 37.9% 3P-shooting*Jordan Clarkson: 15.5 points / 3.5 rebounds / 26.4 minutes*Mike Conley: 14.1 points / 5.3 assists / 42.3% 3P-shooting*Rudy Gay: 9.0 points / 4.6 rebounds / 20.2 minutes
Minnesota (24-25, 13-10 home / No. 8 Western Conference)Offense*111.3 Points Per Game (No. 8 in NBA)*110.1 Offensive Rating (No. 16 in NBA)
Defense*110.7 Points Per Game (No. 22 in NBA)*109.4 Defensive Rating (No. 14 in NBA)
*Karl-Anthony Towns: 24.2 points / 9.4 rebounds / 3.7 assists / 40.4% 3P-shooting*Anthony Edwards: 22.9 points /5.2 rebounds / 37% 3P-shooting*D’Angelo Russell: 18.8 points / 6.9 assists / 3.6 rebounds
MATCHUP TO WATCHJordan Clarkson vs. Anthony Edwards— As the reigning sixth man of the year, Clarkson is the ultimate flamethrower capable of winning a game all on his own. Being so shorthanded, Clarkson will need to catch fire to give Utah a good chance of getting the win. But standing in his way is Edwards, the second-year guard who has taken a massive step forward into a legitimate scorer.
UtahOUT — Donovan Mitchell (Concussion Protocol)OUT — Rudy Gobert (Left Calf Strain)
MinnesotaQUESTIONABLE — Leandro Bolmaro (Left Ankle Sprain)QUESTIONABLE — Patrick Beverley (Right Ankle Sprain)QUESTIONABLE — Josh Okogie (Right Quad Contusion)QUESTIONABLE — D’Angelo Russell (Left Shin Contusion)OUT — McKinley Wright IV (G League, Two-Way)
BROADCAST INFORMATIONTime: 6:00 p.m. MSTLocation: Target Center / Minneapolis, MNTV: AT&T SportsNetRadio: 1280 The Zone