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Jazz knock down Timberwolves in wild finish, 126-125


PhilBoxing.com




In a unique NBA record this season, the Utah Jazz have been involved in five games decided in the clutch— tussles decided with 5 points or less in the last five minutes of play.

Filipino-American star Clarkson pumped the clutch and manually changed gears for Utah as he sank a free throw with 4 seconds left, capping a wild ending as the Jazz beat the Minnesota Timberwolves, 126-125, on Monday.

Known in NBA circles as the ‘Flame Thrower’, Clarkson is having an all-star like performance this season that boosts his stock as he re-negotiates his contract with the Jazz soon.

Walker Kessler posted 20 points and 21 rebounds (both career-bests), and Jordan Clarkson added 21 points as the Jazz climbed from a 10-point hole in the fourth quarter to beat the Timberwolves. Kessler, the former college Naismith defensive player of the year in 2022 for Auburn, has started in his fourth game and has averaged 13.5 points, 13.25 rebounds and 3 blocks, and is covering nicely for Kelly Olynyk who has missed his fourth straight game due to a left ankle sprain. Also, Lauri “The Finnisher” Markkanen missed his second straight game with a contusion on his left hip.


Seven Jazz players punched in double-figure cards as Utah won 3 of their last 4 games. Off the bench, Collin Sexton added 19 points and Ochai Agbaji 17 for Utah to complement their starters— Jarred Vanderbilt had 15, Mike Conley 14, Malik Beasley 10 points. For good measure, Nickeil Alexander Walker and Talen Horton-Tucker chipped in 5 points apiece.

As a team, Utah grinded all night while making 45-of-84 baskets (53.6% FG), sank 13-of-34 treys (38.2% 3-PT), controlled the boards with more rebounds (50 to 41), scored more in the paint (60 to 56 points), had more points after turnovers (20 to 6) despite having more turnovers (18 to 6), and led by as much as 5 points.

A solid defense and a clicking offense finally pushed Utah in a rare and well-deserved victory after losing so many tight games these past three weeks.

Said Jazz head coach Will Hardy: "Another game, another chaotic finish for the Jazz…This is who we are at this point. I've said it a bunch of times this year, we are perfectly imperfect, we're scrappy, we're tough, we have heart, we go through great moments, we go through tough moments, but the guys never stop fighting."



By contrast, a scrappy Minnesota team made 46-of-a whopping 101 basket attempts (45.5% FG), sank 18-of-41 treys (43.9% 3-PT), had more steals (9 to 0) and blocks (6 to 5), led by as much as 11 that featured more fast break points (20 to 10) that were nullified by ineffective aggression committing more fouls (20 to 12).

Anthony Edwards led the ‘Wolves scoring 17 of his 29 points in the third quarter, and became the youngest player to notch 500 3-pointers, in the process.

D’Angelo Russell poured in 21 points for Minnesota, which plodded against the 7-foot-1, 245-pound rookie center Walker Kessler.

Kyle Anderson added 13 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for the Timberwolves. Rudy Gobert had to exit early due to persistent groin soreness.

With 13.5 seconds left, Russell tied the game at 125-all with 13.5, then Clarkson made one-of-two free throws to seal the win. Before the buzzer, a late 3-pointer by Jaden McDaniel rattled out as Utah escaped with a one point win.

Halfway through the third quarter, Utah pushed ahead, but Edwards retaliated, making 9 points as Minnesota went on an 18-8 run to end the third. Edwards went head-to-head with Kessler on 3 straight possessions, and got 2 free throws and 2 lay-ins, almost single-handedly pocketing the win for Minnesota.

A dejected Minnesota coach summarized, “The story of the game was on offense and ability to finish around the paint…I think we were, let’s see here, 28 for 52 in the paint. That’s a lot of misses in the paint. And not all of them were because of great defense. We missed a lot of easy ones.”



Upcoming:

Utah Jazz (23-24) : Host the Los Angeles Clippers (23-22) on Wednesday.

Minnesota Timberwolves (22-23): Visit Denver Nuggets (30-13) on Wednesday.

Note of Appreciation:

Photos, stats and video are courtesy of the NBA and brought to you by PhilBoxing.com.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Emmanuel Rivera, RRT.


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