by Daniel Olsen
The Utah Jazz once again had a roller coaster of a performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Utah led by as many as 18 points, but ultimately lost 104-105 at the lone game in the Target Center this year between the two teams. The loss comes just 48 hours after the Timberwolves beat the Jazz in Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Jazz once again quickly built a double-digit lead in the first quarter and all seemed right with the world. That was largely in part due to the hot shooting of Joe Ingles. He made three shots from downtown within a two minute span. That ballooned the lead to 16-5 with just five minutes to go in the first quarter. His first shot that sparked the run was a left corner three right in front of the Wolves’ bench.
The Jazz would regress to the mean. Life without Donovan Mitchell has brought cold shooting spells. One player that wasn’t cold was Ersan Ilyasova. After making a corner three to beat the first quarter buzzer off an assist from Conley, Ilyasova got right back to work in the second frame. He made another jumper near the same spot on the right corner to start the second quarter. This time, it was a long two-point shot off a nice bounce pass from Jordan Clarkson.
After that, the Jazz went on a field goal drought for over three minutes. Who was there to end it? Ilyasova. Clarkson found him once again, but this time it was on the right wing for another three. The Jazz would then go on a four minute scoring drought.
The 14 point quarter was one of the most anemic offensive outputs all season for the Jazz. There were some nice plays, but they were few and far between. The Jazz trailed the Wolves by two points at halftime.
The third quarter didn’t get much better, so it’s time to fast forward to the last minute in the fourth. At this point the Jazz are only down four points.
The last sequence of events in the final 22 seconds is where it gets tricky. The Jazz came out of the timeout and got what they needed: A quick two points on an alley-oop from Conley to Gobert. Only four seconds burned off the clock.
Then, Karl-Anthony Towns split a pair of free throws to give the Jazz a chance with it being a one possession game. The Wolves then decided to prevent a tying three with a foul.
That quickly backfired. It seemed accidental but Conley missed the second free throw after making the first. The Jazz secured the rebound and had another possession with the team only down two now.
Conley then surveyed the court and drilled a step-back three with just over six seconds to go. At that point, he had ice in his veins. The Jazz still had work to do though. They needed to play the best defense of their lives to escape Minnesota with a win.
It turned out to be one of the worst defensive moments of their lives. While that may sound like an overreaction, it came at the most inopportune time. In the inbounds play, Gobert for some reason decided to direct his defense away from the rim. Perhaps he was trying to guard his guy or run the play as instructed. On the video review, it looked like a sudden lapse of judgment. He seemed to blatantly leave the rim where Russell was patiently waiting for the pass and easy lay-up.
Conley once again tried to make a winning play happen but appeared to get fouled on an around-the-back reach by Ricky Rubio. It wasn’t significant enough to be called though. At that point the ball broke lose and the game was over.
The Jazz will look to avoid another loss when they head to the capital of California on Wednesday night to play the Sacramento Kings. The game will be broadcast at 8 PM Mountain Time. The Jazz currently lead the Phoenix Suns by just a half game in the Western Conference standings.
• The Jazz are 3-1 in games decided by one possession this season.
• In just 24 minutes off the bench, Ilyasova hit a team high four three-point shots.
• Mike Conley and Kevin Durant join Kobe Bryant as the only three NBA players to win an Oscar. Conley was asked about his award winning film, Two Distant Strangers on the pre-game show.
• Royce O’Neale was the only player on the Utah Iazz to record double digits in something besides points. He had 10 rebounds on the night.
• The Timberwolves are the only team in the NBA to sweep the Jazz in a three game regular season series. This is the first time in NBA history history that they have done so according to Timberwolves PR.
• Russell, Towns and Jayden McDaniels all recorded double-double performances on the night.
• Rudy Gobert was recently in the news for donating to a Jazz fan’s funeral expenses.
Featured image courtesy Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports