Riding a season-high tying three-game losing streak the Wolves found themselves in desperate need of a win. The 14-win Jazz are the West's worst team and they certainly looked like it tonight.
The Timberwolves struggled a bit offensively early on, but it really didn't matter considering the Timberwolves held the Jazz to just 23 first half points! It goes without saying that the Jazz struggled mightily tonight.
They were coming off a big win over the Detroit Pistons last night, while the Wolves were fresh off a loss to the Raptors in Toronto. The Jazz simply couldn't put the ball in the basket and I think part of it was being without Gordon Hayward. They definitely miss his production as their starting shooting guard. I was a bit disappointed he didn't play tonight, because he is by far my favorite Jazzman.
The Wolves scored 23 points in the first quarter, while holding the Jazz to 23 through the first TWO quarters. At the half the Wolves had 51.
The Jazz simply had no answer for the duo of Love & Pek. I thought the battle in the paint would be a little closer considering the Jazz have two young bigs of their own: Derrick Favors & Enes Kanter. I know Kanter has struggled mightily this season (he used to be on my fantasy team, keywords: used to), but I though Favors would do a bit more than the 8 points & 10 rebounds he finished with.
With Kanter struggling this season, they've moved him to the bench and start Derrick Favors at center with combo forward Marvin Williams at power forward. The mismatch of Pek & Favors was made very evident in this one. Had Pek played at all in the fourth quarter, he would have easily set a new career-high. In 29 minutes he finished with 27 points & 14 rebounds. There were a few times when Kanter was matched up with him defensively that Nikola looked as though he was playing against schoolchildren as he muscled his way with ease to the bucket for easy basket after easy basket.
The last third of Minnesota's Big Three also had a great game. Martin hit just 1 three in 6 attempts, but he worked his way inside for easy layups and drew contact for chances at the line. When the Wolves can get Love, Pek & Martin all clicking offensively this Wolves team is incredibly fun to watch.
Tonight's box score...
This is a great momentum builder and the Wolves need to build off of it. Their next game will be another matchup with these Jazz, but this time in Utah. If the Wolves walk into Energy Solutions Arena and they come in cocky & expecting to win, they'll be in for a rude awakening, because I guarantee that this team will come back ready to play hard against a team that absolutely embarrassed them.
The Wolves also need that win, because after they face the Jazz on Tuesday, they continue a four-game road trip with visits to Golden State, Portland & Chicago. Tipoff for Tuesday vs. the Jazz in Utah is a later 8pmCST.