Sometimes, there are things in sports that make you scratch your head. The tortoise beating the hare. Secretariat. Joey Chestnut and his appetite for hot dogs.
It might not be quite to that extreme, but the series between the Utah Jazz (44-16) and the Minnesota Timberwolves (17-44) ranks up there — at least for the 2020-21 season.
The Jazz have dominated opponents at home and only have four losses in 30 games at Vivint Arena this season, and two of them belong to the T-wolves.
There are only two other teams — Phoenix and Washington — that have multiple wins over Utah, and Minnesota sports a 2-0 record against the team with the best record in the NBA.
While none of that seems to make much sense, the two teams will go at it again Monday in Minneapolis. It’s a game the Jazz really need to win as they attempt to earn the No. 1 seed throughout the playoffs.
But Utah will have to play better than it did at home on Saturday night while laying an egg.
“It’s another game where we have to learn from our mistakes,” Jazz point guard Mike Conley said. “We all had our times in the game where we wish we would have made a different decision or gave a little bit more effort.”
The Jazz can’t use being without injured All-Star Donovan Mitchell as an excuse. They had won five of six previous outings he’d missed this season.
They usually have plenty of guys who can light up the scoreboard too, but nobody other than Bojan Bogdonavic, who had 30 points, did much on the offensive end to pick up the slack. In fact, the opposite was true. The Jazz only shot 40.2 percent overall and watched as the Timberwolves scored 23 points off their 20 turnovers.
“We stayed disciplined to what we wanted to do,” Minnesota center Karl-Anthony Towns said. “And how we wanted to get the job done and it worked out for us.”
Towns played well as usual with 24 points and 12 rebounds and D’Angelo Russell’s 23 points off the bench were helpful to Minnesota’s cause. But rookie guard Anthony Edwards was perhaps the game’s MVP with 23 points, nine rebounds, five steals and four assists.
“He has the ability to make plays not every player can,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “When you see that, you’re inspired.”
The rest of Minnesota had eight steals.
“If we’re giving up that many possessions, you make it virtually impossible,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “You have to almost be perfect in other aspects of the game.”
Gobert lamented that the Jazz couldn’t find a way to score after that 40-point first quarter. Utah only had 56 the rest of the way. He credited Minnesota for playing a role in that.
“They played hard,” Gobert said. “They played with energy and they forced us into a lot of turnovers.”
Snyder said it’s “a focus thing” for the Jazz.
“It’s something we’re aware of,” he said. “It has to be important every possession. That’s gonna be crucial for us if we’re going to win.”
That goes for the Jazz no matter who they are playing, even the Timberwolves.
–Field Level Media