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Rubio scores 23 points as Jazz beat Timberwolves, 121-97

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Ricky Rubio wasn't going to miss this game. Not back in Minnesota against his former team, and not with the Utah Jazz having a chance to improve their playoff position in the packed Western Conference.

Rubio, who was questionable before the game with sore left hamstring, scored 23 points and hit a season-high five 3-pointers as the Jazz beat the Timberwolves 121-97 on Sunday night.

''There was no chance I'm not playing tonight,'' Rubio said, telling reporters his desire was because of the playoff race. ''I know it's a huge game. Always being smart knowing that the team needs me. This game was huge.''

Rubio, who was traded from the Wolves in the offseason in part because of his poor shooting, buried his former team further with his run of 3s. He was 4 of 4 from long range in the second quarter and had 16 points in the first half.

Rookie Donovan Mitchell added 21 points to help the Jazz climb a half-game ahead of Minnesota for sixth in the Western Conference. The loss kept the Timberwolves one game ahead of New Orleans, which lost at home to Oklahoma City.

Utah shot a season-high 60.5 percent from the field and got 50 points from its reserves to split the season series with Minnesota by winning the last two games. The Jazz have won 25 of its past 30 games.

''We've worked hard over the course of the season, like all teams, to be in a position to have opportunities to play games like tonight,'' Utah coach Quin Snyder said. ''Obviously, we played well tonight. Guys were focused on that. We just focused on playing well and playing together and that's what we did.''

Andrew Wiggins scored 23 points for the Wolves, who had won two straight but fell to 19-5 at home against Western Conference opponents this season. Karl-Anthony Towns had 20 points.

''We gave them everything,'' Towns said. ''They shot 60 percent, that's a tell-tale sign that you're giving them everything. We didn't do a good job tonight of doing the little things.''

Wiggins was aggressive early in a pivotal game for both teams. He scored 11 of Minnesota's first 15 points and the Wolves held a four-point lead.

Utah recovered and methodically pulled away. The Jazz took their first lead at 22-20 and didn't trail again. Jerebko hit a fall-away shot against Towns to cap a 25-10 run for a 41-30 lead.

Utah scored on four of its first five possessions of the second half to pull away and led by as many as 29 points.

''It's hard to win if you don't play defense,'' Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said. ''It's about competition, competing on every play. We always talk about the two things are the execution and the intensity. So, what we did tonight wasn't good enough, not even close.''

TIP-INS

Jazz: PG Raul Neto missed his 10th straight game with a fractured left wrist. Six different injuries have caused Neto to miss 32 games this season. ... Rubio has hit at least five 3s just two other times in his career. ... Mitchell had his ninth straight game with at least 20 points, the longest streak by a rookie this season and breaking Darrell Griffith's record for longest streak by a rookie in team history. ... The Jazz are 31-7 when holding teams under 100 points this season.

Timberwolves: PG Derrick Rose was in uniform and available after missing five games with a sprained right ankle, but he was held out. ... Towns finished short of a double-double for just the 14th time this season. He has a league-high 64 this season. ... Rookie Justin Patton, the 16th pick in the draft, made his NBA debut. ... With the importance of the game, Minnesota had its 15th sellout of the season, tying the most the franchise has had since 23 sellouts in 1991-92.

TEAGUE OUT

Minnesota was without starting point guard Jeff Teague, who missed the game with a sore right knee. Teague is eighth in the NBA with 7.0 assists per game and is averaging 13.8 points per game.

Teague had talked about some fatigue recently and he was injured in the last game against Dallas. Tyus Jones started in Teague's place and had 15 points and four assists.

''I don't want to use that as an excuse,'' Thibodeau said. ''Disappointed with tonight, but they've fought hard with Jimmy (Butler) being out and you have to when you're down a player like that. You're only chance is with great intensity. So when you lose another guy, you can't go in and think, `OK, this is good. We're good.' No. You got to compete on every play. Until we understand that it's going to be tough nights.''

ROAD WARRIORS

Utah has won 14 of its past 15 road games.

''We're learning how to play through adversity,'' Rubio said. ''In the beginning we were complaining about a lot of calls and all that stuff and we know that on the road it's not the same as at home. ... It's a playoff race and everybody trying to win and we trying to play as aggressive as we can and referees let us play.''

UP NEXT

Jazz: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.

Timberwolves: At Denver on Thursday night.

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Key Players
D. Mitchell
45 SG
K. Towns
32 C
35.5 Min. Per Game 35.5
21.2 Pts. Per Game 21.2
2.4 Ast. Per Game 2.4
12.3 Reb. Per Game 12.3
43.7 Field Goal % 54.1
43.4 Three Point % 54.0
81.3 Free Throw % 85.6
  24-second shot clock violation turnover 0:01
  Defensive rebound by Georges Niang 0:24
  Aaron Brooks missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:27
  Defensive rebound by Aaron Brooks 0:31
  Georges Niang missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:35
+ 2 Gorgui Dieng made driving dunk, assist by Anthony Brown 0:54
+ 3 David Stockton made 3-pt. jump shot 1:06
+ 3 Anthony Brown made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Gorgui Dieng 1:12
  Lost ball turnover on Alec Burks, stolen by Gorgui Dieng 1:16
  Defensive rebound by Alec Burks 1:18
  Aaron Brooks missed jump shot 1:19
Team Stats
Points 121 97
Field Goals 46-76 (60.5%) 38-90 (42.2%)
3-Pointers 11-28 (39.3%) 8-24 (33.3%)
Free Throws 18-25 (72.0%) 13-14 (92.9%)
Total Rebounds 51 39
Offensive 6 7
Defensive 39 25
Team 6 7
Assists 29 19
Steals 8 10
Blocks 7 1
Turnovers 16 12
Fouls 19 17
Technicals 0 0
23 PTS, 7 REB, 3 AST
23 PTS, 6 REB, 4 AST
1234T
away team logo Jazz 44-33 28332634121
home team logo Timberwolves 44-34 2624212697
Team Stats
away team logo Jazz 44-33 102.4 PPG 45 RPG 20.3 APG
home team logo Timberwolves 44-34 101.6 PPG 45.2 RPG 22.4 APG
Key Players
R. Rubio PG 13.1 PPG 4.6 RPG 5.3 APG 41.8 FG%
A. Wiggins SF 17.7 PPG 4.4 RPG 2.0 APG 43.8 FG%
Top Scorers
R. Rubio PG 23 PTS 7 REB 3 AST
A. Wiggins SF 23 PTS 6 REB 4 AST
60.5 FG% 42.2
39.3 3PT FG% 33.3
72.0 FT% 92.9
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
R. Rubio 27 23 7 3 1 1 1 3 9/14 5/6 0/0 1 6 37 +11
D. Mitchell 31 21 3 4 2 0 5 1 10/15 1/3 0/0 1 2 29 +11
D. Favors 31 16 3 2 0 2 0 4 6/9 0/2 4/7 2 1 25 +16
R. Gobert 32 6 13 1 0 4 3 1 2/3 0/0 2/4 1 12 22 +22
J. Ingles 27 5 4 9 1 0 0 1 2/5 1/4 0/0 0 4 28 +21
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
R. Rubio 27 23 7 3 1 1 1 3 9/14 5/6 0/0 1 6 37 +11
D. Mitchell 31 21 3 4 2 0 5 1 10/15 1/3 0/0 1 2 29 +11
D. Favors 31 16 3 2 0 2 0 4 6/9 0/2 4/7 2 1 25 +16
R. Gobert 32 6 13 1 0 4 3 1 2/3 0/0 2/4 1 12 22 +22
J. Ingles 27 5 4 9 1 0 0 1 2/5 1/4 0/0 0 4 28 +21
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
D. Exum 17 14 3 5 1 0 1 1 4/6 0/0 6/6 0 3 27 +17
J. Jerebko 16 13 1 1 0 0 0 1 5/6 1/2 2/2 0 1 16 +13
J. Crowder 22 10 2 1 2 0 1 4 4/10 2/6 0/0 0 2 15 +9
D. Stockton 3 5 0 0 0 0 0 1 1/2 1/2 2/2 0 0 5 -4
R. O'Neale 18 4 5 3 1 0 3 2 2/3 0/1 0/0 0 5 13 +13
A. Burks 3 2 2 0 0 0 2 0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0 2 2 -3
E. Udoh 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 1/2 0 0 1 -3
G. Niang 3 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0/2 0/2 1/2 1 1 3 -3
T. Sefolosha - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
E. McCree - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
R. Neto - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Bradley - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 233 121 45 29 8 7 16 19 46/76 11/28 18/25 6 39 223 +120
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
A. Wiggins 35 23 6 4 2 0 1 1 10/22 1/2 2/3 1 5 38 -7
K. Towns 36 20 7 2 0 0 3 2 7/13 0/4 6/6 1 6 28 -21
T. Jones 33 15 0 4 4 0 1 0 6/13 2/4 1/1 0 0 26 -12
N. Bjelica 26 7 5 1 2 0 1 3 2/7 1/3 2/2 2 3 15 -21
T. Gibson 34 6 6 1 0 0 0 2 3/7 0/0 0/0 2 4 14 -5
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
A. Wiggins 35 23 6 4 2 0 1 1 10/22 1/2 2/3 1 5 38 -7
K. Towns 36 20 7 2 0 0 3 2 7/13 0/4 6/6 1 6 28 -21
T. Jones 33 15 0 4 4 0 1 0 6/13 2/4 1/1 0 0 26 -12
N. Bjelica 26 7 5 1 2 0 1 3 2/7 1/3 2/2 2 3 15 -21
T. Gibson 34 6 6 1 0 0 0 2 3/7 0/0 0/0 2 4 14 -5
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
A. Brooks 16 12 2 2 0 0 1 5 4/12 2/6 2/2 1 1 17 -16
J. Crawford 27 7 1 2 0 0 3 1 3/10 1/4 0/0 0 1 9 -24
A. Brown 3 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 1/1 1/1 0/0 0 0 5 +3
G. Dieng 18 2 5 2 1 1 2 1 1/2 0/0 0/0 0 5 11 -19
J. Patton 3 2 0 0 1 0 0 1 1/2 0/0 0/0 0 0 3 +3
M. Georges-Hunt 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0/1 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 -1
D. Rose - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Butler - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Teague - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Aldrich - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Jefferson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 236 97 32 19 10 1 12 17 38/90 8/24 13/14 7 25 166 -120