Jazz Vs. Timberwolves: Game Night

Dec 26, 2020, 5:48 PM | Updated: 9:45 pm
Minnesota Timberwolves Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Image...
Minnesota Timberwolves Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Welcome to KSL Sports game night, as the Utah Jazz host the Minnesota Timberwolves. Throughout the night, we update this page with pre-game quotes, starting lineups, and in-game thoughts and updates.

This is the second game of the season for both teams who won their openers during their pre-Christmas debut. The Jazz blew out the Portland Trail Blazers on the road 120-100, while the Timberwolves 111-100 after erasing a five-point deficit to open the fourth quarter.

The Jazz will allow 1,500 into Vivint Arena tonight to cheer on the team as they host their first regular-season home game since March 9 when they played the Toronto Raptors.

Quin Snyder Pre-Game Availability

The marquee matchup in tonight’s game is between All-NBA centers Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns presents a tough matchup for Gobert with his ability to step out beyond three-point range pushing the two-time Defensive Player of the Year out of the paint.

“That puts even more pressure on our guards and wings to contain the ball and also be able to defensive rebound,” Snyder said of Gobert’s absence down low. “Rudy’s got to guard him, Derrick favors will be on him as well, I think that’s a positive for us. We have a couple of guys that can match up on him.”

Snyder could turn to the two big lineup featuring both Favors and Gobert if he sees Town’s floor spacing leaving too big of a void in the paint defensively. Favors remains a quicker perimeter defender, while Gobert can stay near the basket.

Though as he mentioned, the Jazz would benefit most from stout defense from their perimeter defenders which wouldn’t put so much pressure on Gobert to watch Towns beyond the three-point line while also serving as an emergency defender down low.

One player the Jazz could see more from defensively is All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell.

“In Donovan’s case, some of the challenge is just his focus on that end because he’s doing so many things for us in other aspects of the game,” Snyder said. “But his ball pressure and his ability to contain the dribble would be the two things that can really impact the game for us.”

Though D’Angelo Russell, Ricky Rubio, and Malik Beasley will likely draw most of the Jazz attention on the perimeter, the team will also get its first look at Anthony Edwards, the top overall pick in November’s NBA draft.

Edwards had 15 points, four rebounds, and four assists in his rookie debut on Wednesday.

“You have to defend him at the three-point line, he’s a capable shooter and you can see how confident he is when he does shoot it,” Snyder said of the Georgia product. “He’s able to create a lot of different ways that’s why he was the number one pick.”

Starting Lineups

No change to the Jazz starting lineup, but interesting to see Minnesota switch away from Rubio who started the opener against the Pistons in Favors of Russell.

Before the game, the Jazz held a moment of silence for Utah Football freshman Ty Jordan who passed away over the Christmas Holiday.

First Quarter

The Jazz got off to a quick start finding dunks for Gobert on back-to-back possessions to open the game but have been pretty clumsy since then.

Meanwhile, Russell is off to a hot start for Minnesota with 7 early points. The Wolves have been better than the Jazz on the glass so far, also.

The Jazz really struggled in the first quarter with the Timberwolves tougher perimeter defense than what they saw in Portland.

Minnesota has big athletes that feel confident they can keep up with the Jazz ball handlers, and so far that has been the case.

When the threes aren’t falling, and the Jazz can’t get easy looks in the pick and roll Donovan Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson need to breakdown the defense by getting into the paint off the dribble.

At the end of the first quarter, the Jazz trail 31-27.

Second Quarter

Through a quarter and a half it’s clear the Timberwolves have been the better teams. Beyond a 54-43 lead, they’ve been the more physical team and it’s taken the Jazz out of their flow on both sides of the floor.

On offense the Jazz are missing a lot of shots near the rim because Minnesota is up in the Jazz shooters, and when the Jazz don’t get a foul call it follows them down the floor where they lack attention defensively.

The Jazz have closed the gap a few times to a one-score game but the Wolves answer with mini-runs to extend the lead.

The Jazz scorers, Mitchell and Bogdanovic, just haven’t had it tonight. Just 9 points total from two guys who averaged 44 points combined last season.

Minnesota has done a good jon forcing the Jazz to think on offense rather than getting open three after open three like they did in Portland.

Early turnovers really seemed to take the jazz out of their rhythm and it doesn’t look like they’ve ever gotten it back. Tough half, Jazz down 68-53.

Third Quarter

Even in the moments when the Jazz are playing better, they are losing the battle for 50-50 balls and it has given the Wolves the room they need to keep the lead at double digits.

The Jazz haven’t had an answer for Anthony Edwards throughout the night and he’s given Minnesota good minutes. He’s strong enough to bully the Jazz smaller wing defenders and fast enough to beat the bigger defenders.

Mitchell came to life over the last few minutes of the third quarter and it led to easy looks at the rim for the Jazz. Whether he’s finishing layups, going to the free-throw line, or missing layups that lead to Gobert clean up opportunities it’s sparked the Jazz offense.

The Jazz trail by nine entering the fourth quarter.

Fourth Quarter

The Jazz have come alive in the fourth quarter and have cut the Wolves lead to just 5. It all started with Mitchell’s attack which compressed the Wolves defense and opened up opportunities for the Jazz to get easy looks.

Plenty of time left for the Jazz to climb back into this game, but they need to get some stops and play mistake-free basketball.

With just over five minutes left in the game, the Jazz trail by 8, but Towns hurt his wrist and is headed to the locker room. Gobert and Towns had a lot of contact on a Timberwolves drive and it resulted in an injury, but no foul call.

The Jazz cut the Wolves lead to 4 with just over two minutes left on back to back threes from Bogdanovic and Mitchell, but then a tough Russell step back and an Okogie back door layup while Bogdanovic was sleeping rebuilt the lead to 8.

The Jazz cut the lead to 3 with 4.7 seconds left, but Jordan Clarkson slipped on the baseline trying to come off a curl and it blew the Jazz play up. Bogdanovic couldn’t get the ball inbounded and turned the ball over on a 5-second violation.

The Jazz lose 116-111 and fall to 1-1 on the season.

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