Two days later and a lot changed.
This time the Utah Jazz didn’t give Karl-Anthony Towns the room he had last time. Towns was slowed by foul trouble early and by Jazz center Rudy Gobert late.
This time the boost off the bench wasn’t enough at the end, though it looked like it might be early in the fourth quarter.
This time the Wolves didn’t finish.
Monday the Wolves won in Utah. Wednesday at Target Center the Jazz evened the score in a 103-95 victory over a Minnesota team that didn’t have the answers down the stretch.
“Give credit to Utah,” Wolves coach Ryan Saunders said. “They came out with urgency. You could tell the last one stung.”
In a game with more runs than can be count ed on two hands, here’s how the game generally went: The Jazz took a lead, the Wolves — led by the bench — fought back. From start to finish.
Finally? Down 11 late in the third quarter, the Wolves put together an 18-1 run to take a 79-73 lead with 9 minutes, 23 seconds left.
But the Jazz responded with a 15-3 run of its own over the next four-plus minutes to take the lead for good. Utah (9-5) finished the game on a 30-16 run over the final 9:08.
Two days, a big difference.
“Pick-and-rolls,” said Andrew Wiggins when asked how Utah changed from Monday. Sick, Wiggins watched that game. Wednesday, back in the lineup for the first time in four days, he scored 22 points in 34 minutes. “They played the pick-and-rolls a little bit differently. Especially with [Karl-Anthony Towns]. When he popped they didn’t leave him like they did in the game before. They made sure they stayed with him. That was a big change.”
Towns had 14 points and 12 rebounds. But he only took 10 shots, his fewest since scoring a season-low 13 in a loss to the 76ers last month.
In Monday’s win, Towns scored 29 and grabbed 13 rebounds and shot a team-high 23 times.
On Wednesday, the Wolves shot 39.3% and missed 31 of 45 three-point attempts. They had 13 assists and 13 turnovers. Take out point guard Jeff Teague and the team had seven assists and 12 turnovers. The Wolves (8-7) went 11-for-21 on free throws while losing their third straight home game.
The Jazz? Four starters reached double figures, led by Bojan Bodganovic, who had nine of his 30 points on three fourth-quarter threes. Donovan Mitchell, held to 5-for-23 shooting Monday, scored 26 on 9-for-24 shooting but made five of 10 three-pointers. Gobert had 12 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks.
“We got sped up a little bit,” said Saunders when asked about the difficulty the Wolves starters had finding an offensive rhythm. “Kind of got us out of our plan with the pass. You can see, only having 13 assists. We didn’t move the ball great tonight.”
For a while it didn’t seem to matter. Down 11 late in the third, Kelan Martin — attempting to reprise his performance Monday — scored eight points and Jarrett Culver had five in an 18-1 run that ended with Towns’ step-back three with 9:23 left.
It didn’t last. Mitchell scored, Jeff Green hit two free throws and Gobert drove for a score to tie the game and was fouled. His free throw with 8:24 left gave the Jazz the lead for good.
Mitchell scored 11 fourth-quarter points. The Jazz hit seven of 11 threes in the final 12 minutes.
“I felt it was a lot of guys missing shots,” Wiggins said. “When we got to the free throw line we missed a lot of free throws. But, you know, practice, back at it tomorrow, get our rhythm back.”