Fantasy Football 2014:

Timberwolves take it to Jazz

The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves sure needed a game like Saturday night's 98-72 victory over Utah -- a night of frolic at the Target Center that eased the tension of a three-game losing streak.

The Wolves limited a Jazz team that had won by 21 points in Detroit the night before to 23 first-half points and 28.8 percent shooting from the field all night, a Utah franchise-record low.

They doubled up the Jazz in scoring by late in the second quarter and led by as many as 36 points in the third quarter. It was their league-leading 10th 30-point lead this season even though they're also 0-11 in games decided by four or fewer points.

Starting point guard Ricky Rubio sat the entire fourth quarter for the third consecutive game, but this time it was for a welcome reason: He was there with his four fellow starters because the outcome already had long been decided.

The starters cheered seldom-played rookies Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng near the game's end while teammates J.J. Barea and Ronny Turiaf posed for a photo with a courtside female fan during a timeout.

"Every team needs moments like this when you can just sit on the bench and relax," Wolves center Nikola Pekovic said one night after the Wolves lost 94-89 at Toronto. "I wish we got more games like this, but we'll take it."

The Wolves punished the Jazz inside, outscoring them 50-18 in points in the paint thanks to Pekovic's 27-point, 14-rebound performance and forward Kevin Love's 18-point, 13-rebound game. They also won the rebounding battle 60-42.

No other team in the league has led by 30-plus points in a game this season more than San Antonio's six times. Oklahoma City has done it four times and Dallas, Portland and the Los Angeles Clippers three times each.

The Wolves (19-21) now have won nine games by 20 or more points, also most in the NBA.

"I'll take it that we were up that much 10 times than not," Pekovic said. "We have some difficulties this season. We're losing some games, some easy games. It's really nice when you got some games like this -- when you show what you can do. This means a lot for a team like this tonight."

The Jazz apparently left their life and their shooting legs in Detroit, where they clobbered the Pistons the night before.

Utah's 23 first-half points were the fewest ever allowed by a Wolves team in a first half and second fewest in any half in franchise history, second only to Indiana's 21 points in the second half of a 2006 game.

"I don't know where the excitement of the game last night went," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We played so well (Friday night). It just didn't transfer over to us tonight.

"We missed shots. We knew from the beginning we didn't have any pep to us, any energy. We settled for jump shots and they were going to the basket. You can't have no legs, coming off like you're soft. There was no rhythm to the game at all for us tonight."

The Wolves had only built a 30-point lead six times in the last eight seasons before this one. They were leading by 34 points at game's end when they left the floor to a chorus of boos after holding the ball on the final possession.

Boos?

"I couldn't believe it actually. Why's this for?" Pekovic said. "Because we didn't want to take the last shot?"

No, fans left Target Center because their team didn't reach 100 points and they didn't go home with ticket stubs worth 16 ounces of free frozen yogurt.

"If I was a fan, I'd want my CherryBerry, too," Wolves forward Corey Brewer said.

NOTES: Jazz F Gordon Hayward missed his fourth consecutive game because of a hip flexor. The last time Hayward played, he scored a career-high 37 points and had 11 rebounds and seven assists in a Jan. 7 upset victory over Oklahoma City. ... Utah rookie PG Trey Burke is the latest success story many Timberwolves fans felt got away. The Jazz traded the 14th and 21st picks on draft night last summer to the Wolves for the No. 9 pick, which they used to select Burke while the Wolves took F Shabazz Muhammad and C Gorgui Dieng. Burke is a Rookie of the Year contender, and Muhammad and Dieng have played very little. ... Utah coach Tyrone Corbin returned to Minneapolis on Saturday, the day the city deflated the Metrodome stadium across town from Target Center to make room for construction of a new Minnesota Vikings stadium. Corbin played for the Timberwolves in their inaugural 1989-90 season when the team played at the Metrodome and set an NBA attendance record. "This was special, man," Corbin said. "Every night, the fans came out. The weather, being so cold, it didn't bother them. ... It was a fun time to be around."

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Aug 27 9:00 am
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