by Daniel Olsen
Sloppy. That is the one word that best describes this game. Despite the disappointing end, the Utah Jazz were in striking distance of another win. Close doesn’t count in the win column though, and the Jazz would lose this game to the Minnesota Timberwolves 101-96 in Vivint Arena to precede their road trip.
If the outcome of the game was determined by the opening minute, the outlook for the Jazz would be looking good at that point. The steal and three on the other by Royce O’Neale couldn’t have been a better start. The Jazz could were on fire and built a 40-26 lead at the end of the first quarter.
At one point, the Jazz lead by as much as 17 points. However, the Wolves rallied back to cut the deficit to single digits at the end of the half. The three-headed monster of Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell combined for 70 points. While all three of these players scored over 20 points, Bojan Bogdanovic was the only one to do so for the Jazz.
The Jazz scored more in the first quarter alone than they did in the entire second half. They managed just 38 points in the final 24 minutes. It wasn’t the electric offense Jazz fans are used to seeing at home.
While the Jazz didn’t have much to celebrate in the second half, they still kept the game competitive until the final minute when Minnesota made free throws to seal the deal. They did have a few highlights that got fans out of their seats. Mike Conley pump faked and hit a three to start the third quarter and hit an off balance one-hand floater to end it. He showed that he was one of the best players on the court for the Jazz. He just didn’t have enough plays to get his team over the hump. He shot 33 percent from the field and his assist-to-turnover ratio just wasn’t as good as it has been recently. He did have seven assists but racked up four turnovers as well. Before this game, Conley was on a four-game double-digit assists streak which hadn’t been done since Deron Williams.
With just over a minute to go, Gobert took all his frustration out with a block on a weak inside attempt by Russell. The anger was apparent for most of the night as NBA referee Bill Kennedy had to leave the game early due to an undisclosed injury. With two referees left to finish the game, there were a few missed calls on both sides. In a close game, Jazz fans only wonder what the result might have been had all three refs finished the game.
With this monster block, the Jazz only trailed the Wolves 94-93. However, the Jazz wouldn’t score for over another minute until Clarkson made a three to give the Jazz a slight chance to win with being down by three points. However, Okogie knocked down his free throws at the other end and the five point deficit was just too much to overcome with six seconds left in the game.
The Jazz still own a 1.5 game lead over the Phoenix Suns for the top seed in the Western Conference. They will get another shot at the Timberwolves on Monday night to avoid the sweep. This matchup will be played at the Target Center in Minneapolis. The game will start at 6 PM Mountain Time.
• Add the Timberwolves to the short list of teams the Jazz haven’t been able to beat this season. The other teams are the Wizards and Suns.
• Bogdanovic made a team high seven threes in this game. That is his highest total since the loss to the Pelicans at the beginning of March when he also made that many.
• Mike Conley surpassed 5000 career assists last night. 487 of them have been as a Jazz man.
• Donovan Mitchell had the outfit of the year on the sidelines, but it was not enough to give the Jazz the luck they needed. On Friday, it was announced he will be given one more week of rest and then re-examined.
• The Jazz failed to eclipse the 100 point barrier. The last time this happened, they also had 96 points in a gritty defensive win over the Detroit Pistons in January.
• The Jazz had 20 turnovers. That’s enough to fill a bakery and also a recipe for a loss in the NBA. Maybe a Jr. Jazz team can get away with that and still win. In a professional league where teams can capitalize off mistakes at the highest level, it’s a little bit harder to achieve a win with that many mistakes.
• Gobert had a nice 17 rebounds but was just a point shy of a double-double. The Jazz may need more production from him on the offensive end to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images