For the second time this season, the Utah Jazz traveled to Minnesota and stole a win against Rudy Gobert and the Minnesota Timberwolves. The first time it was second game of the season and one could chalk it up to the element of surprise. But this time is different, this time the red-hot Timberwolves who beat the Jazz in Utah in December and have won 6 out of the last 7 games were supposed to be the superior team. Ultimately the Timberwolves season won’t be ruined by a loss like this but it can be disheartening to lose to a team that is supposed to be tanking, especially when they have been playing so well since the new year started.
With their recent play, Minnesota was starting to gain some ground in the Western conference standings compared to where they were a month ago. But for whatever reason, the Jazz have their number this year when the game is played in Minnesota. Today’s loss is especially discouraging because Rudy Gobert only played four minutes before leaving the court with a noticeable limp. It is yet to be seen what that injury will mean for him and the team but with Karl Anthony-Towns already out it could have a big impact on the playoff race. Anthony Edwards picked up as much slack as he could with 29 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists but didn’t get much else from their starters today. D’Angelo Russell did chip in 21 points and 7 assists also.
The game ball for the Jazz in this game has to go to Walker Kessler. All five Jazz starters scored in double figures, so everyone played well, but Kessler posted his first 20/20 game and his impact on the court was undeniable. Not to disrespect Rudy Gobert, but the fact that the Jazz may have received someone who can be almost as impactful on the defensive end and a little bit more impactful on the offensive end in their trade with Minnesota last summer may just be the steal of the century. Utah also got double figure games off the bench from Ochai Agbaji and Collin Sexton, who shined in in his return from injury.
The Wolves travel to Denver to try and bounce back against the Nuggets on Wednesday. The Jazz have four out of their next five games at home and they start by hosting the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. Utah’s schedule actually lightens up for the next month as we approach the all-star game. It will be fun to see if the Jazz can make a push to help Lauri Markkanen get selected by the coaches to play in that game. GO JAZZ!!