Minnesota at Utah

Jazz defeat Timberwolves, halt six-game skid

CBSSports.com wire reports

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Jazz guard Earl Watson was pushing the pace so much he left his own teammates winded Friday night.

But after snapping a six-game losing streak with a 108-100 win over Minnesota, nobody was complaining.

"It is a relief," Andrei Kirilenko said. "It's big time to finally leave it behind and start over."

The smallest player on the court had perhaps the biggest impact. Watson, starting in place of injured guard Deron Williams, had a career-high 13 assists to go along with his 10 points.

"Missed baskets, made baskets, he's going to get out there and run," said Paul Millsap, who led all scorers with 30 points on 14-of-25 shooting. "He got a lot of us tired a little bit, but it's for a good cause."

The Jazz (28-19) also got a strong effort from Kirilenko, who had a season-high 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting. Kirilenko opened the game with a 3-pointer and had a key steal late to seal the victory.

The Timberwolves fell to 10-36 and have lost six straight despite Kevin Love's 32nd consecutive double-double. He had 22 points and 15 rebounds despite a slow start.

"Even with all the turnovers and the poor defense we still had our chances, but in the end they were a little too much," said Love.

Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis credited the Jazz.

"They are the best in the league probably at maintaining their focus at the offensive end and keep moving the ball and making the defense work for 24 seconds," he said. "We couldn't sustain it."

The Jazz did it without their leading scorer, showing how determined they were to get back on track after dropping to seventh in the Western Conference standings.

Utah had a season-high 20 steals, with Millsap recording a career-best six -- all despite a severely bruised thumb on his shooting hand that made him a game-time decision.

"Paul was tremendous," Kirilenko said. "I know he can play like that. When he started making those shots at the beginning, I'm like, 'Uh, oh. I got my guy. I'm going to you."'

The Jazz entered the game with the second-lowest scoring average in the first quarter at 22.9, but led 32-25 on Millsap's 7-of-9 effort and Watson's fast pace.

More on Wolves at Jazz
Related links

Watson, who started with the same energy he usually brings off the bench, had four assists in the first five minutes and seven in the first quarter.

"When you get easy baskets in transition and get layups, it gives the guys confidence," Watson said. "It builds a rhythm and builds chemistry and makes everything easy."

Still, the Timberwolves wouldn't go away.

Love had only four points and six boards in the first half, but he scored seven points in the third quarter to tie it at 55.

Watson then ignited an 8-0 Jazz run.

Reserve guard Ronnie Price gave the Jazz their biggest lead a minute into the fourth quarter when he hit a 3-pointer to make it 90-79. The Timberwolves fought back again, with Luke Ridnour's jumper pulling them within 92-91 with 7:39 remaining.

"They made a good push," Watson said. "It's the NBA and everyone is talented, but at the same time we're at home and know what we're capable of doing. You never panic but you always try to get a sense of urgency. We stayed in, kept pushing the pace and before you knew it we extended the lead."

Love pulled Minnesota within 101-98 with three free throws after forcing Jefferson to foul out on a 3-point attempt with 1:37 left. Millsap would hit a jump shot with the shot clock winding down for a 105-100 Utah lead with 46 seconds left, then Kirilenko stole it from Michael Beasley to seal the win.

"AK was on top of his game tonight," Millsap said of Kirilenko, who has started the past two games after a lineup shuffle left him coming off the bench midway through the losing streak. "When he plays like, that we're a much better basketball team. He can do it all - run, pass, rebound, shoot. He did all that tonight."

Does one win fix everything? Millsap said time will tell.

"It's been a tough few weeks for us," he said. "It just feels good to get back on the winning side. We've got a lot of positive attitudes in here and everybody feels good with this win."

At this rate, Millsap should play every game a bruised thumb.

"Before and after the game, you feel everything, all the pains, all the nicks. But I didn't feel it when I got on the court. I'm not going to miss a game because of a thumb."


  • Williams hyperextended his right wrist early in a 39-point effort Wednesday against San Antonio though an MRI showed no structural damage. "I feel like I can't hold the ball. If I could play, I could play.
  • But I can't play," he said Friday morning.
  • Utah's 32 points in the first quarter were the most in an opening quarter since Dec. 1.
  • Jazz reserve C Mehmet Okur did not play in the second half because of a lower-back straight.
  • Beasley had his fifth double-double of the season while Wesley Johnson added 19 points off the bench for Minnesota.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
Conversation powered by Livefyre
Paul Millsap lays in two of his game-high 30 points against the Timberwolves.   (Getty Images)
Paul Millsap lays in two of his game-high 30 points against the Timberwolves. (Getty Images)
Minnesota (10-36)25302223100
Utah (28-19) «32262723108
MIN:K. Love 22 Pts
MIN:K. Love 15 Reb
MIN:J. Flynn 6 Ast
UTA:P. Millsap 30 Pts
UTA:A. Jefferson 14 Reb
UTA:E. Watson 13 Ast
Players of the Game

Kevin Love

Paul Millsap

Related Video

September 24, 2016
Reiter salutes Garnett on HOF career (1:23)
September 23, 2016
Kevin Garnett announces retirement from NBA
September 23, 2016
Kevin Garnett set to retire
September 21, 2016
Magic Bill Ball: NBA Over/Unders
K. Love, PF376-1110-11152322
D. Milicic, C315-121-391011
L. Ridnour, PG303-82-23428
M. Beasley, PF286-144-4112316
C. Brewer, SF231-70-02143
W. Johnson, SG278-140-012219
M. Webster, SG212-32-21137
A. Tolliver, PF183-41-22229
J. Flynn, PG182-40-01625
N. Pekovic, C60-00-00010
S. Telfair, PGDid Not Play
K. Koufos, CDid Not Play
W. Ellington, SGDid Not Play
G. Stiemsma, CDid Not Play
L. Hayward, SFDid Not Play
Totals 36-7720-24452122100
P. Millsap, PF4014-252-282430
E. Watson, PG393-84-4213010
A. Kirilenko, SF3510-136-867127
R. Bell, SG301-82-22024
A. Jefferson, C283-142-214168
C. Miles, SF267-164-672222
F. Elson, C111-20-01012
G. Hayward, SF100-20-00200
M. Okur, C91-30-03102
R. Price, PG91-20-20013
J. Evans, SF40-00-00110
D. Williams, PGDid Not Play
K. Fesenko, CDid Not Play
Totals 41-9320-26432918108
Other Games
NJ 92 Final
Ind 124
Mem 99 Final
Phi 94
Mil 116 Final
Tor 110
NY 102 Final
Atl 111
Den 117 Final
Cle 103
Det 87 Final
Miami 88
Orl 90 Final
Chi 99
Wash 117 Final
OKC 124
Char 121 Final
GS 113
Sac 100 Final
LAL 95
Bos 71 Final
Pho 88