SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Donovan Mitchell scored a high of 39 points and the Utah Jazz beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 120-108 on Friday night.
Mitchell added six rebounds and five assists on his return from a two-game absence with a back injury. With Mike Conley and Joe Ingles sidelined, he took on the point guard in his first game and shot 57% from the field, including 6 of 11 3-pointers.
“I think we performed well offensively with a group that haven’t played together so much,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “And then we had stops. We were able to burn ourselves out and put some things in transition. “
Bojan Bogdanovic added 24 points and 12 rebounds, Jordan Clarkson added 20 points and Rudy Gobert added 14 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks.
Utah went 35 of 41 from the free throw line.
“You look at last year how they kept us, how they played with us physically. It kind of got us into trouble, ”Mitchell said. “So this year the way we were able to fight that, hit the free throw line and keep going through it with force (and) pushing the pace. As a group, we’ve done a really good job of just continuing to pressure them. “
Anthony Edwards of Minnesota scored 26 points on his return after a six-game absence due to health and safety protocols. Malik Beasley added 22 points for the Timberwolves.
Minnesota were at a disadvantage offensively with Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell, who are still sidelined due to health and safety protocols, absent from the roster.
After Patrick Beverley scored three points per minute after the start of the fourth quarter, the Jazz scored 22 unanswered points to pull away from the Timberwolves. Mitchell started the race with back-to-back baskets and scored 12 points in the blast. Gobert and Mitchell finished with back-to-back baskets that gave Utah a 113-92 lead with 5:51 to go.
“Protecting them is difficult,” Edwards said. “Our training, I think everyone held up. Keeping them is difficult because they have so many shooters on the floor. “
Utah built a 13-point lead at halftime, increasing 63-50, knocking down 3 points and repeatedly hitting the free throw line.
The Jazz made seven outside baskets – including four from Mitchell – and shot 54% from the perimeter before halftime. Utah also shot 22 of 26 on free throws in the first half. Bogdanovic and Gobert each had eight free throw attempts, equaling Minnesota’s total free throw attempts in the first two quarters.
Minnesota rallied in the third quarter and erased Utah’s lead. Jaden McDaniels capped a 12-2 run with a go-ahead that gave the Timberwolves a 79-78 advantage. Edwards and Naz Reid each scored a pair of baskets to fuel the push.
“I don’t think we brought the right amount of intensity into the first half,” said Minnesota coach Chris Finch. “I think we ran out of gas because we must have used so much (energy) in the third quarter.”
Timberwolves: Jordan McLaughlin had three interceptions, a season high, all in the first quarter. . Jaylen Nowell has totaled 11 assists in his last two games. . Edwards and Nowell fouled in the fourth quarter.
Jazz: Joe Ingles (sprained lower back), Mike Conley (rest) and Eric Paschall (personal reasons) were ruled out for Utah. . Trent Forrest made his first career debut. Forrest finished with four points, three rebounds and three assists. . Hassan Whiteside did not return after halftime due to concussion-like symptoms. Clarkson inadvertently punched Whiteside in the face in a collision in the second quarter.
Gobert recorded an emphatic fourth block against Beverley with 5:55 left to play near the end of Utah’s 22-0 run. Beverley publicly downplayed Gobert’s defensive playing skills after the teams’ previous encounter.
The three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year has denied having any additional motivation to make that kind of statement on Beverley in particular.
“I always play with emotion,” said Gobert. ” It was a good time. It was a key moment in the game. We were playing very well. We were racing. Just a cool block. I think if it had been someone else I would have reacted the same.
Minnesota: At the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
Utah: hosts the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.
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