Melissa Majchrzak

The Roundup—Jazz get back on track with win over feisty Wolves

by Matt Payne

Drama, drama and (a lot) more drama.

And a highly satisfying Jazz win.

In a Northwest Division grudge match between two teams fighting for the playoffs, the Jazz outlasted the road-weary Timberwolves 116-108 Friday night in Salt Lake City.

The game, which was broadcast nationally on ESPN, featured five technical fouls, one flagrant foul and three ejections—Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns and Jeff Teague, and Utah's Jae Crowder.

It's probably safe to say that both teams will be looking forward to April 1, when the Jazz will face the Wolves in Minnesota.

"I think we all enjoy games like that," Utah's Donovan Mitchell said after the game. "Not the dirty stuff, but getting competitive and the fans getting into it. It's just a lot of fun."

Mitchell and Rudy Gobert led the way in the win, as Gobert scored 18 of his season-high 26 points in the first half and Mitchell slammed the door shut with 17 of his 26 points in the second half.

Crowder and Derrick Favors added 15 points each, while Ricky Rubio finished with 13 points, five rebounds, seven assists and a game-high net rating of +23 in 31 minutes.

Joe Ingles found his shot after struggling the past three games, finishing with 11 points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals, and shooting 3-for-5 from beyond the arc.

The Jazz (32-30) now sit two games behind Denver for the Western Conference's final playoff spot.

Towns picked up two quick technical fouls—one for elbowing Crowder in the face and another for arguing a no-call—and was ejected late in the second quarter. Minnesota's All-Star center finished with 13 points, four rebounds and a steal in 20 minutes.

Andrew Wiggins (27 points) and Teague (25 points) led the Timberwolves (38-28) in the loss.

Friday's Best

Gobert absolutely owned the Timberwolves, posting a monster line of 26 points, 16 rebounds, one assist, one steal and four blocks. He relentlesly drove to the hoop, where he either threw down a dunk or got fouled—and he shot 12-for-14 from the line, including two free throws late in the game when Minnesota was threatening.

Key Stretches

The Jazz pumped up the crowd midway through the first quarter when Gobert started swatting away everything Minnesota had to offer. He was (wrongly) called for goaltending on a layup attempt by Taj Gibson, and then, angered, proceeded to block Minnesota's next two shot attempts—with the latter resulting in a 3-pointer by Mitchell that gave Utah a 22-18 lead and forced a Minnesota timeout.

The Jazz started to really move the ball near the end of the first half, and the slick passing resulted in three by Crowder and two dunks by Gobert—including one three-point play. Ingles blew by his defender and threw down a one-handed dunk (this is not a joke—see the verified video evidence below), while Gobert jammed home a missed layup by Rubio and Mitchell knifed into the lane for a layup. Two free throws by Gobert, two technical fouls and an ejection for Towns, and a Mitchell jumper later, the Jazz had turned a three-point deficit into a 56-45 lead heading into the half.

The Jazz led by as many as 12 in the second half, but the Wolves wouldn't go away. Minnesota pulled back to within two before Crowder hit a three and Mitchell scored two straight buckets to push Utah's lead quickly back to nine. After a Minnesota timeout, some stingy defense by Rubio apparently caused Teague to lose his mind, because Minnesota's point guard chased down Rubio and body checked him into the Timberwolves' bench, drawing a flagrant 2 foul and subsequent ejection. Rubio hit the two free throws to put the Jazz up by 11. Utah would hold on from there, with Mitchell making several game-sealing plays down the stretch.

Significant Stats

25

Utah won despite turning the ball over 19 times, with Minnesota scoring 25 points off of those miscues.

19-0

The Jazz outrebounded the Wolves 45-27, and Utah's 11 offensive boards led to a 19-0 advantage in second-chance points.

Coach's Quote of the Night

"We won a few games in a row and really didn't move up in the standings, so I don't know that we're thinking right now about tiebreakers and standings and things like that. We just need to keep competing and hopefully keep winning, and those things will take care of themselves."

Jazz head coach Quin Snyder

Notable

Utah shot 51.3 percent from the field and 77.1 percent (27-for-35) from the free-throw line. ... Friday was Jonas Jerebko's birthday. He scored five points in 11 minutes. ... All-Star Jimmy Butler (knee) missed his third straight game for Minnesota. ... The Jazz handed out 21 assists. ... Minnesota did not block a shot. ... Utah outscored Minnesota 56-50 in the paint. ... Nemanja Bjelica played all but three minutes for the Timberwolves. ... The Jazz are now 20-11 at home.

Up Next

The Jazz will travel to Sacramento to face the Kings on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 8:00pm MT.