After three quarters of sluggish basketball, the Jazz turned it on late but still came up short, falling to the Minnesota Timberwolves 109-98 Monday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
Donovan Mitchell scored 12 of his team-high 24 points in the fourth quarter for the Jazz, while Rodney Hood chipped in 16 points off the bench. Thabo Sefolosha and Jonas Jerebko scored 13 points each.
The Jazz (6-8) played without All-NBA center Rudy Gobert, who will miss at least the next four weeks after suffering a tibia contusion during Friday’s game against the Miami Heat.
Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves (8-5) with 24 points on an efficient 10-for-15 shooting (including 4-for-6 from 3-point range). Jeff Teague added 22 points, while Jimmy Butler double-doubled with 21 points and 10 assists.
Mitchell, who scored 24+ points for the fourth time in his last seven games, was Utah’s shiniest silver lining in the loss. Besides carrying the load on offense, the rookie didn’t back down on defense despite a difficult matchup with Minnesota’s wing duo of Butler and Andrew Wiggins. He grabbed a game-high four steals and added four rebounds, four assists and one block in 35 minutes.
Two threes by Hood and a banked-in runner by Sefolosha gave Utah some life late in the first half, but Teague drilled a three just before the second-quarter buzzer to give Minnesota a 15-point lead at the break.
The Jazz fell behind by as many as 26 in the third quarter before a lineup of Mitchell, Jerebko, Raul Neto, Ekpe Udoh and Royce O’Neale rallied to bring Utah back. Mitchell scored five straight points—on a 3-pointer and a driving floater—and then Neto drilled a three from straight on. Another three by Mitchell cut the deficit to 11 with 2:32 left in the fourth, but consecutive misses by Jerebko and four free throws by Butler effectively ended Utah’s comeback attempt.
Mitchell (24 points) scored more points than Utah’s other four starters combined (23 points). Jerebko (13 points) was solid in his first start of the season, but Joe Ingles (zero points on 0-for-6 shooting), Ricky Rubio (three points on 1-for-7 shooting) and Derrick Favors (nine points on 4-for-9 shooting) all struggled to get going.
Utah shot 14-for-40 (35.0 percent) from 3-point range, with four players—Mitchell (3-for-9), Jerebko (3-for-6), Sefolosha (3-for-4) and Hood (3-for-6)—making three each.
There was a big disparity in free throws throughout the game, with Minnesota shooting 25-for-29 (86.2 percent) and the Jazz shooting 10-for-11 (90.9 percent). In the first half alone, Minnesota was awarded 17 free throws while Utah shot only four.
Coach’s Quote of the Night
“Our perspective has to be about growth and improvement. When you’re down by more than 20 in the third quarter, that’s what we wanted to do in the fourth—and we had some guys get out on the floor and show that they’re capable of doing it.”
Jazz head coach Quin Snyder
Favors grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds for Utah. … The Jazz are now 6-4 at home. … Taj Gibson had his fourth double-double of the month with 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolves. … Joe Johnson (wrist) missed his sixth straight game for the Jazz. … Utah shot 39.1 percent during the first three quarters and 60.0 percent during the fourth.
The Jazz will hit the road for a four-game road trip beginning on Wednesday against the New York Knicks. Tipoff is set for 5:30pm MT.