BEN ANDERSON

Timberwolves Prove Tough Test In Jazz Win

Dec 23, 2021, 9:56 PM | Updated: 10:22 pm

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell holds back Joe Ingles against the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo b...

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell holds back Joe Ingles against the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz got a tougher test than some may have expected in their 128-116 win over the short-handed Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Timberwolves were without their top two scorers in Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, plus multiple key contributors as the Minnesota roster has been ravaged by the NBA’s COVID-19 safety protocols.

Donovan Mitchell scored 28 points while Rudy Gobert added 20 points and 17 rebounds as the Jazz moved to

Timberwolves Fights Admirably In Loss

It would have been very understandable for the Timberwolves to mail-in Thursday’s game, playing shorthanded, on the final game of a two-game road trip, and knowing they had three days off over the Christmas break before hosting the Boston Celtics on Monday.

However, they made it clear early in the game they were going to put up a fight, even with the late news that they would be without Towns, which they learned only a few hours before tip-off.

Minnesota got a spark in the first quarter thanks to a balanced team effort, knocking down 4-9 three-point attempts while getting eight points off the bench from Jaylen Nowell.

From there, Malik Beasley and D’Angelo Russell took turns carrying the Timberwolves battered roster as the two capable scorers finished with a combined 52 points on 20-45 shooting in the loss.

“I thought we did a pretty good job against the team that shoots a lot of threes,” Snyder said, “and those guys in particular.”

Beasley and Russell connected on 11-24 three-point attempts accounting for more than half of the Timberwolves’ attempts and makes to keep the game close until late in the fourth quarter.

“I do think they really competed and played at a high level and shot the ball well which they’re capable of doing,” Snyder said. “so a really good win for us.”

COVID Only A Matter Of Time For Jazz

The unfortunate truth about the NBA’s COVID issue is it seems inevitable to hit each team at some point this season.

Even though the Jazz are one of only a handful of teams that have yet to be affected, it seems impossible to avoid the issue altogether.

After facing the Timberwolves who were missing several key players, the Jazz is set to face the Dallas Mavericks on Christmas night who also have seven players in the protocol as of Thursday, including star Luka Doncic.

The Jazz have been helped by three different factors regarding the current outbreak:

  1. They have been playing the overwhelming majority of games at home, reducing travel and potential exposure to the omicron variant.
  2. The newest variant has been running rampant on the East coast and has only made it to the West in the last few weeks.
  3. The Jazz have a 100 percent vaccination rate, and many of the players have received their booster shots.

And yet, that likely won’t be enough as the overwhelming majority of the NBA is vaccinated, and many have gotten their boosters.

Quin Snyder discussed how the Jazz are preparing for a future that remains unknown.

“I think the biggest thing is just to control what we can and try to follow the protocols,” Snyder said of staying safe off the court. “Then, I wouldn’t say wait and see, but also understand that there are things that we can’t control.”

Though Snyder discussed trying to stay off the floor, he also said the team’s players need to be prepared to fill different roles.

“Certain guys have to be prepared to play more minutes,” Snyder said. “Certain guys that haven’t played need to be prepared to play in the games and to step into rotations. We say that as coaches all the time, ‘Be prepared, you never know when your number is going to get called.”

So far the Jazz have been lucky, but unfortunately, that luck running out seems like more a matter of when and not if.

Joe Ingles Christmas Tradition

With the Timberwolves in the rearview mirror, the Jazz players can now turn their attention to Christmas, before their scheduled evening nightcap with the Dallas Mavericks.

While the Jazz have four international players on the roster who will gear up to celebrate in their own traditional way, Joe Ingles holiday celebration is a departure from the ones he was used to growing up in the warm weather climates of Australia in the southern hemisphere.

“Christmas has always been hot for me growing up,” Ingles said. “It was always at my family’s house because we had a pool and it was like your outdoor day, you were swimming all day.”

While weather forecasts are projecting a chilly 34 degree Christmas in Utah, Ingles native Australia can reach temperatures in the low triple digits on the holiday.

“I was probably pretty confused as a kid because I was always having like pool parties and all that on Christmas where every movie Christmas movie is snow-themed,” Ingles said. “So yeah, very different experience in terms of [snow].”

The weather also plays a role in how Australians eat during the holiday, as a hot meal isn’t always the most appetizing option in the height of summer.

“I wouldn’t say the same food but very similar, that same kind of festive Christmas food like that’s not too different,” Ingles said. “Obviously, there are a few more cold food options with it being like 115-110 degrees.”

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Timberwolves Prove Tough Test In Jazz Win