It was a chippy, turnover laden, and full of offense, but the Utah Jazz came out with the win. The Utah Jazz, who were coming off of 3 days of rest, were facing the Minnesota Timberwolves who were playing their second game in as many nights. For the Timberwolves, this was a night that was a scheduled loss from the beginning but they sure didn’t play like that. If it weren’t for some head scratching ejections (KAT thrown out for saying “damn” (???) and Teague for reenacting Nash getting tackled), the Utah Jazz could have lost a game that the schedule makers gifted them before the season even started.
The story was turnovers. Utah had three days to review all 22 of their turnover in the Houston loss, so naturally they improved drastically—just kidding—it was crap show. The Utah Jazz turned the ball over 21 times to Minnesota’s 23. If either team had their turnovers under control they would have won in a blowout. Minnesota had 25 points off turnovers while the Utah Jazz had 20 points off of turnovers.
Karl-Anthony Towns looked to be in the zone in the first half having 13 points and 4 rebounds. Kane Fitzgerald, though, was tense on the whistle. Towns felt he was fouled and felt he deserved an and one with only 30 seconds to go in the 1st half and let Fitzgerald know by allegedly saying, “Call the **** foul!” Fitzgerald then called Towns for his second technical foul and Towns was ejected. Honestly, it wasn’t deserving of a technical foul. That changed the course of the game as Gobert took advantage.
Rudy Gobert finished with 26 points, 16 rebounds, and 4 blocks. He honestly should have had more points. Even when Utah had the advantage down low they didn’t feed the beast as much as they could. Gobert had 9 shot attempts while getting to the line for 14 free throws.
Donovan Mitchell also had yet another 20 point game. Donovan Mitchell now has 31 games with 20 points or more in his rookie season. He only trails Darrell Griffith by 19 games to tie for most 20 point games all-time as a Jazz rookie with 20 games to go. It seems like a long shot for Donovan Mitchell to score 20 points or more in at least 19 of his remaining 20 games, but for the Jazz to have a shot at the playoffs that could be the minimum required.
Despite big games from Mitchell and Gobert, the Wolves stuck around in this one due to big games from Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague. Utah’s defense struggled in this one with a defensive rating of 109.5.
The real fireworks of the game happened when Jeff Teague tackled Ricky Rubio. First Rubio went flying out of bounds. Jeff Teague was immediately ejected, automatic flagrant 2.
Jeff Teague gets ejected after hip-checking Ricky Rubio. pic.twitter.com/z0ClZn1eya— ESPN (@espn) March 3, 2018
Check out Crowder get into Teague’s grill defending his point guard. But the real fireworks came from off the court when Jimmy Butler tweeted for the first time in two years. You’ll never guess what the guy who didn’t want Ricky Rubio to visit his locker room in Minnesota had to say about Teague’s hip check ...
haven’t used Twitter in years. But yeah Jeff that’s what I like to see. Rubio getting up quick for no reason.— Jimmy Butler (@JimmyButler) March 3, 2018
Then he even went after Jae Crowder ...
Jae get away from my coach. You don’t want no smoke either— Jimmy Butler (@JimmyButler) March 3, 2018
When Rubio post game was asked about the hip check, he didn’t want to immediately comment to beat reporter Kyle Goon, but he did mention Jae Crowder would be his teammate forever for how he defended him. Speaking of small forwards with a penchant for standing up for their team ...
Hayward doesn't know why but he just started walking in an easterly direction— moni (@monilogue) March 3, 2018
Despite losing both Teague and Towns to ejections in this game, Minnesota STILL fought back in this one and at one point it was a 2 point game in the final minutes. Luckily, Donovan Mitchell put the game away and all was said and done. BUT ... Utah still has some issues. The turnover issue didn’t look improved. Honestly, the turnover issue is not going to be fixed overnight. They’ve dealt two players away while adding one and Exum’s return on the horizon. Utah is going to look out of sorts until everyone’s back and the adjustment period is over. Can Utah overcome that and squeak into the playoffs? We’ll see.