Déjà Vu As Jazz Are Swept By Timberwolves

Apr 26, 2021, 9:54 PM | Updated: 9:56 pm
Minnesota Timberwolves guard D'Angelo Russell (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)...
Minnesota Timberwolves guard D'Angelo Russell (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz, the NBA’s best team, were swept by the Minnesota Timberwolves, the league’s second-worst team after a 105-104 loss on Monday.

The Jazz game played out similarly to Saturday in Salt Lake City after the Jazz built an 18 point first quarter lead before collapsing offensively and allowing Minnesota to take over in the second and third quarters.

Mike Conley led the Jazz with 26 points but turned the ball over on the team’s final possession before the team had a chance at a game-winning basket.

The Timberwolves were led by D’Angelo Russell who had 27 points off the bench including the go-ahead basket with five seconds left to play to give Minnesota the win.

Déjà Vu All Over Again For Jazz

No two NBA games are alike, but this Jazz loss felt nearly identical to the game Saturday night in Utah. The Jazz jumped out to a hot start in the first quarter, building an 18 point lead thanks to hot shooting and a slow Timberwolves start.

On Saturday, the Jazz jumped out to a 17 point first-quarter lead thanks to hot shooting and a slow Timberwolves start.

In Minnesota, the Jazz offense rapidly deteriorated in the second and third quarter, allowing the Timberwolves to build a double-digit second-half lead, before tying the game late in the fourth quarter, ultimately losing after a late collapse.

In Salt Lake City, the Jazz offense rapidly deteriorated in the second and third quarter, allowing the Timberwolves to build a double-digit second-half lead, before taking a one-point lead, then scoring just three points over the final 3:41 to lose 101-96.

In both games, the Jazz had one standout performance from a perimeter player but saw the rest struggle mightily with seemingly no way to stop the bleeding. On Saturday it was Bojan Bogdanovic who scored 30 points to lead the Jazz only to see the rest of the team’s shooters go cold. On Monday it was Conley who played well while the rest of the Jazz shooters went cold.

Like Saturday’s loss, this shouldn’t be a major concern for Jazz fans (regardless of what the Twitter timeline says) as they have once again proven to struggle specifically with Minnesota’s big guards, Karl-Anthony Towns’ ability to spread the floor, and the absence of Donovan Mitchell.

Despite the loss, coach Quin Snyder had a rather optimistic take on his team who had a chance to win a game where they shot just 16-57 from three.

“This isn’t a moral victory, but this is specific to the team mentality that we have to have in order to be successful,” Snyder said of the Jazz. “And obviously we have to we have to close.”

Gobert Mistakes Cost Jazz Chance To Win

There were a number of basketball oddities that cost the Jazz a chance to win a game, including Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, and Jordan Clarkson combining to shoot 9-45 from the floor including 5-30 from the three-point line.

However, it was the mistakes from Rudy Gobert on the game’s final two possession that will leave a bad taste in the mouths of Jazz fans.

First, after taking a 104-103 lead with five seconds remaining, the Timberwolves were forced to inbound the ball at half court and needing a basket to win the game. Initially, it looked like the Jazz had defended the play well, but a major Gobert gaff allowed Russell a wide-open layup that took fewer than two seconds to complete.

With Ricky Rubio inbounding the ball, the Timberwolves set a screen on Gobert to spring Towns to catch the ball above the perimeter. Conley switched out onto Towns with Gobert defending Russell, but inexplicably, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year decided to go back to Towns leaving the Minnesota guard open for a layup.

“It was totally on me,” Gobert said. “[Mike] was already out there, we kind of switched and I should have recognized that he did what he was supposed to do and I didn’t. It was 100 percent on me.”

Then, with a chance to win the game on the offensive side of the ball, Gobert again may have cost the Jazz a win.

After Conley caught an Ingles inbound pass, Gobert came up to set a screen, drawing two defenders onto the Jazz guard where Rubio poked the ball away from behind and into the waiting hands of Jaden McDaniels.

While initially, this looked like Conley’s mistake, the veteran guard indicated it was the result of a broken play.

“We were supposed to just clear the court open and create a one-on-one situation,” Conley said. “It got crowded there, Rudy came up and tried to make a play and there was nowhere to go.”

Gobert is the league’s best defender and screen setter, so for the All-NBA center to make two costly mistakes late in the game is right to hurt, it shouldn’t stand as the strong indicator of what is yet to come for the Jazz.

Furthermore, the two-time All-Star deserves credit for making no excuses for his errors.

“Every team has some tough games,” Gobert said. “If I don’t [mess] up the last play defensively we end up with a win.”

The Jazz now head to Sacramento where they will face the Kings on Wednesday before a pivotal matchup with the Phoenix Suns. With Monday’s loss and the Suns’ victory over the New York Knicks, the Jazz lead atop the Western Conference stands at just one game.

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Déjà Vu As Jazz Are Swept By Timberwolves