Wolves silence Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY — Shooting guard Gordon Hayward returned from his five-game injury absence, but his big night wasn’t enough to keep the shorthanded Utah Jazz from falling 112-97 to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday at EnergySolutions Arena.
Power forward Kevin Love flirted with a triple-double with 19 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists as Minnesota routed the Jazz for the second time in four nights.
On Saturday, Love had 18 points and 13 boards as the Timberwolves held Utah to a franchise-low 28.8 percent shooting in a 98-72 win at Target Center. Minnesota had lost five in a row to Utah coming into the season.
Hayward finished with a game-high 27 points with five rebounds and five assists in his first game in two weeks after being sidelined with a left hip flexor. The swingman, Utah’s leading scorer, hadn’t played since his career-high 37-point outing at home in a 112-101 win over Oklahoma City on Jan. 7. The Jazz were 2-3 in his absence.
Utah, however, only had two other players in double figures — Alec Burks (18) and Jeremy Evans (10) — and went without one of their best players.
Center Derrick Favors did not play because of a right hip abductor injury. That forced Utah to use a makeshift starting lineup, which included fill-in center Enes Kanter, Hayward, Trey Burke, Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams all together for the first time this season.
This was not how the Jazz (14-29) hoped to start their longest home stand of the season.
Williams put Utah up 4-2 at the 10:38 mark of the first quarter, and the Jazz never came close to leading again. Shooting guard Kevin Martin and Love hit back-to-back 3-pointers as the T-Wolves went on an 8-0 run to take control.
Minnesota led 34-16 by the end of the first quarter and went ahead by as many as 26 points.
Center Nikola Pekovic contributed 18 points and nine rebounds, while Martin poured in 18 points for Minnesota before leaving in the third quarter with a cut right pinky finger.
Guard Alexey Shved also left in the second quarter after suffering a broken nose.
The Timberwolves finished the first half of their schedule one game below .500 at 20-21 after snapping a seven-game losing streak in Utah.
Notes: Timberwolves All-Star F Kevin Love, who can opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent in 2015, admitted he’s gotten tired of being asked about his future. “Sure,” he said. “I just want to talk about the game tonight, live in the present and go from there.” ... Jazz C Derrick Favors originally injured his hip on the first play of Friday night’s game when he came down wrong on a dunk. He wasn’t pulled out of action until he struggled in Monday’s warm-ups. “I’m a competitive person,” he said. “I’m always ready to play, but at the same time I’ve got to listen to my body and listen to my trainers and just know that it’s a long season.” ... One of the best parts of being back for Jazz G Gordon Hayward is being done with tedious treatment routines. “Happy to be done with that,” Hayward said. “It’s just a lot of sitting there and getting ice and (stimulation) and heat and then ice and then heat again and then ice again, and just watching SportsCenter over and over and over. It’s pretty boring.”