The Utah Jazz did their best to spoil Andrei Kirilenko’s homecoming. The Jazz ended the first quarter down 24-23, but that was one of the few times Wednesday night that they trailed the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Jazz came right out of the gates pushing the ball and being active on both ends. The movement on the offensive side of the ball was great, and the defense was just as stellar. This effort continued all night and culminated in a 106-84 Utah win.
The second quarter really served as the launching pad for the rocket of a post player Enes Kanter is evolving into, as well as his crew mate Derrick Favors. Minnesota had no answer for Utah’s two young bigs down low, and the Jazz defense became suffocating in the second quarter. At the 9:07 mark, the Jazz had 10 assists on 15 made field goals and only 1 turnover, certainly one of their best first half efforts all season long.
The thing that really stood out to me during this second quarter was the way the fast break was run. In years past, the Jazz have been an pretty solid fast-break team, but this year’s been a bit underwhelming. However, Wednesday night’s game saw the Jazz running the break well and getting some beautiful finishes, including Kanter’s extravagant break in which he dribbled the ball all they way down the court and dunked it, bringing the Salt Lake City crowd to its feet.
The ball movement proved to be very, very good, and there were very few iso plays. At the half, the Jazz went into the locker room with a 53-45 lead. Jamaal Tinsely lead all scorers with 10 points, and the Jazz were shooting a hot 53% from the field.
The third quarter is where this game broke open for the Jazz. They continued to build upon the successful strategies of their second quarter, and came out feisty on defense. The ball kept swinging around to guys cutting to the basket on the offensive end, and the Jazz flew into a 13-3 run to put themselves up 66-50 with 6:44 to go in the third.
The Wolves made a small run and cut the lead to 12 with 2:59 left in the third, but Favors checked back in and firmly cemented Utah’s lead. After 3 quarters of play, the Jazz were up 79-66.
The fourth quarter saw Alec Burks get his first minutes of the game, and he put them to good use, showing off some incredible dunking skills and some nice steals as well. The Jazz kept the pedal down and poured on their lead until the final buzzer sounded. From a fan’s point of view, the effort Utah gave from tip-off to the end was just incredible. Inconsistent effort has been a problem for the Jazz all season, but Wednesday saw them competing until the game finally ended.
The Jazz bench posted a massive 53 points, and as a team the Jazz scored 56 in the paint. Favors finished with 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Gordon Hayward led all scorers with 17. Randy Foye was the only starter to not score in double figures. Earl Watson led the way with 9 assists, and as a team Utah posted 25 dimes, above their season average. Kanter was able to post 15 points and 8 rebounds. Milsap went 7/8 from the field for 14 points.
Interestingly enough, Kevin Love was a non-factor in this game for Minnesota, a team that was also without its star point guard Ricky Rubio. Former Jazzman Kirilenko scored 12 points, along with 7 rebounds and 2 assists. Love had a very quiet 13 points and 12 rebounds. Minnesota only notched 17 assists on the night.
And now, because this website is all about the fan, I thought it’d be fun to throw in a few of my favorite tweets I saw tonight as I followed the game on Twitter. These people are all great Jazz fans and deserve a follow.
marc stevens @stevensM8
#MINatUTA Enes the Menace havin himself a game tonight!
Bill Oram @tribjazz
IN about 30 seconds of gameplay, Kanter got a bit fiery with Barea, Stietsma and Dante Cunningham.
Clint Peterson @Clintonite33
All that movement has led to 32 Jazz points in the paint, while denial defense has held Wolves to only 18. #MINatUTA
THIS is the team I love to watch!!!! #MINatUTA
Michelle C @ChelleFC
20 point lead and it feels so right. #KeepPouringItOn #GoJazz
The Jazz haven’t lost a game this year