Rookies carry Timberwolves past Jazz in overtime

Published 4:48 am Tuesday, March 24, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY — The future of the Minnesota Timberwolves gave a glimpse of what might be Monday night.

Timberwolves rookies Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins combined to score 49 points, leading their injury-ravaged team to a 106-104 overtime victory against the Utah Jazz.

It was the seventh road win of the season for Minnesota (16-54), which won for only the third time this month.

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LaVine, winner of the NBA’s slam dunk contest last month, scored 27 points. He made two 3-pointers to force overtime, rallying the Timberwolves after they trailed by five with 1:02 left in regulation.

“If you all know me, I have the confidence to take and make any shot. That’s my mentality,” LaVine said. “That’s why I come in knocking them down.”

LaVine’s clutch shots in the fourth quarter set up a 6-1 Minnesota run to start overtime that the Jazz couldn’t overcome.

“Zach showed big Kahunas to go in there and make the shots that he hit,” Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said. “Wiggins was big in the fourth quarter making shots, getting to the free throw line.”

The game featured some of the NBA’s top young stars. Wiggins, last year’s No. 1 overall draft pick, scored 22 points and fellow rookie Sean Kilpatrick added 13 off the bench for Minnesota. Chase Budinger had 15 points, including an overtime 3 that gave the Timberwolves a 102-97 lead.

Second-year center Rudy Gobert had 18 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks for the Jazz. Rookie forward Joe Ingles scored a career-high 18, and Derrick Favors added 19 points and 12 boards.

Trey Burke shot 4 of 22 for Utah and missed a 32-footer at the buzzer that would have won the game. He also missed a 3-pointer off the side of the backboard at the end of regulation.

“(LaVine) hit some big shots tonight. Some of those shots … against any defense he would have made that shot. First half, we didn’t play good defensively,” Burke said.

The Jazz (31-39) were without leading scorer Gordon Hayward for the second time this season. He sat out with a sprained shoulder.

Utah clearly missed Hayward, who is averaging 19.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.

“It’s tough because he’s definitely a piece of our team that gets us going,” said Burke, who had 16 points. “He scores the ball at a high pace for us. Defenses are focused on him a lot, so it frees up a lot of other guys.”



Timberwolves: Rookies combined to score 66 percent of Minnesota’s points. “I’m really proud of the guys,” Saunders said. … Six of the seven players who saw time on the court scored in double figures.

Jazz: Utah used the starting lineup of Gobert, Favors, Rodney Hood, Dante Exum and Ingles for the first time this season. … Hood left at the 7:18 mark of the third quarter with gastrointestinal distress. He finished with eight points and four assists in 20 minutes. … The Jazz have lost three of four.


The Timberwolves were without eight of their 16 players due to injury. That included Kevin Garnett (sore left knee), Ricky Rubio (sore right ankle) and Anthony Bennett (sprained right ankle), who were all with the team but did not dress.

“The one thing is, when you’re only playing seven or eight guys, one thing they know, they know they’re going to play,” Saunders said. “That’s the positive. You hope what doesn’t happen is that they don’t pace themselves. Two of our last three games … we just ran out of gas.”


The Jazz have 12 games remaining and they have not been eliminated from the playoffs, but their chances are slim despite a 12-5 record since the All-Star break. Utah coach Quin Snyder said there are no specific goals for the final stretch, but he began looking at the team’s progress in 10-game increments in January.

“That was, to me, a valid enough sample that we could get an idea of how we were doing,” Snyder said. “But it also allowed us to kind of accept some of the progress we’ve made. To appreciate it. And also to recognize it as just that, a 10-game evaluation that can come and go. We’ll do that this last stretch of games, the way we have been, and try to finish the season in the same mindset.”


Timberwolves: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.

Jazz: Host the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.