SALT LAKE CITY – Ten months after they came to Salt Lake City with just seven healthy players and beat a streaking Jazz team in overtime, the Timberwolves lost 103-90 Friday night with a roster missing just their two Kevins, Garnett and Martin.
They lost their third consecutive game, for the fifth time in their past six and the 26th time in their past 32 games after they started the season 8-8.
Rookie Karl-Anthony Towns made 13 of 17 shots, scored 32 points — his most this season (and, of course, his career), grabbed 12 rebounds and still deemed his night “terrible.” Fellow No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins made two of 11 shots, scored five points and didn’t get a rebound or assist in nearly 36 minutes. It was his first single-digit scoring game since Dec. 7 and his third this season.
The Wolves also surrendered the third quarter’s final 14 points, a five-minute stretch in which the Jazz went from trailing 69-68 to leading 82-69 by quarter’s end.
Not even Zach LaVine’s 7-for-7 shooting start that extended his streak of consecutive two-point shots made to 19 over the past two-plus games was enough to save them.
Nor were the 52 points and 27 rebounds for which Towns and fellow big man Gorgui Dieng combined. Their efforts couldn’t offset a Jazz team that had big guys Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors back in the starting lineup after both missed Utah’s 94-80 loss at Target Center a month ago.
Towns said he played ill Friday but deemed it “not an excuse” for a game in which he claimed his teammates carried him.
“They were scoring, I couldn’t do nothing,” Towns said. “I was like a brick out there for my team. I’m a little upset. I should have done more for us. My teammates were the ones who got me points. I didn’t get myself points. When I tried to get something for myself, I was missing layups, missing shots. My teammates were the ones that made the stat sheet. I didn’t.”
The last time Wiggins didn’t reach double digits in scoring was a Dec. 7 game against the Los Angeles Clippers, when he scored eight points.
“He just didn’t have that extra step,” Wolves interim head coach Sam Mitchell said. “It happens. Nobody is going to play great every night. You could just tell: Very, very rarely does he ask to come out of the game and he asked to come out of the game early in the third quarter, at the five-minute mark. He just was tired.”
The Wolves looked just the same, particularly in those closing minutes of the third quarter when Mitchell tried to get his starters some rest and the Wolves’ second unit couldn’t stop the Jazz from scoring at will while going the final 4:58 of the period without scoring themselves.
“Our guys do a good job,” Mitchell said. “They play hard. You have to get them out of the game. The other group just didn’t play as well as we would have liked. It happens.”
LaVine was on the floor for those final third-quarter minutes, when he missed his first two-point shot attempt since Monday’s loss at Cleveland on a driving layup that rolled off with 45 seconds left.
“I wish I knew,” said LaVine, who had no answer for how the Jazz ripped off that 14-0 run. “The third quarter is usually where we mess up. That’s what killed us. Sometimes it only takes just two minutes [to lose a game]. We’ve got to get that under control.”