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Instant analysis: Jazz blow early lead, fall to Timberwolves for second straight game

Utah lost again to Minnesota and looked completely unnerved through the second, third and fourth quarters.

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Minnesota Timberwolves’ Naz Reid (11) drives on Utah Jazz’s Georges Niang (31) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 26, 2021, in Minneapolis.

Jim Mone, AP

The Utah Jazz lost a second straight game to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, falling 105-104, on the road.

I could really almost use the notes from Saturday’s Jazz loss to the Timberwolves. The Jazz blew an 18-point lead and looked completely unnerved through the second, third and fourth quarter, save maybe a two-minute stretch late in the game. After the first quarter, the Jazz didn’t look like the team deserving of the win. If you want a reminder of how Saturday went — here you go.

High Notes

  • Georges Niang really played a pretty excellent game. Early on he was strong and feisty on the offensive glass, getting rebounds and tapping out the ones that he couldn’t get two hands on. He defended well and he was largely responsible for getting the Jazz back into the game, scoring 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter.
  • Quin Snyder made some out of character rotation changes and brought in Ersan Ilyasova to play with Niang, Mike Conley, Rudy Gobert and Jordan Clarkson. I liked that big lineup, which gave the Jazz some length on the perimeter and a different look inside on the defensive end. And, Ilyasova hit some 3s while he was in which was great.
  • I said this last time and I’ll say it again, the Timberwolves are an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ team and they deserve a lot of credit for continuing to feed the hot hand of D’Angelo Russell. He hit big, timely buckets and finished with 27 points.

Low Notes

  • Midway through the first quarter Royce O’Neale landed awkwardly on his left arm and was rubbing his shoulder quite a bit after. Hopefully that’s not something that lingers.
  • The Jazz had a really bad shooting night. Bojan Bogdanovic shot 1-of-7 from 3-point range. Joe Ingles shot 3-of-13, and Clarkson went 0-of-8 from distance before making his first trey in the fourth quarter. 

“To have a situation where we weren’t making [shots] but we continued to shoot, and we also found other ways to get to the rim, I thought was an important thing for our team to understand. And then to be able to hang into the game.” —Quin Snyder

  • The Jazz usually open up a lot of their 3-point shots with drive-and-kicks and it works...usually. But, when Bogdanovic or Clarkson are driving the ball really slowly in mostly isolation, with the defense not coming over to help, and make sloppy passes out to guys who don’t have a ton of room to actually get a shot off — then to complicate things there’s no off-ball movement — it just makes for horrible possession. 

Flat Notes

  • Another good first quarter, another lead blown. The Jazz blew a 17-point lead to Minnesota on Saturday and then an 18-point lead on Monday.
  • When the Jazz are getting open shots, they have to shoot them. This feels like beating a dead horse. I don’t know how many times I can say that O’Neale or Bogdanovic or anyone else are passing up wide open looks before it feels like I’m just a broken record. Maybe I’m already there.
  • Conley hit a huge 3-pointer to give the Jazz a one-point lead with 5.9 seconds left to play, but on the next possession Gobert completely bit on a pump-fake by the inbounder and got lost in space. That gave Russell a wide open layup, which ended up being the game-winning shot because Conley lost the ball on the next possession. It was just a colossal collapse to end the game, and we can say all sorts of things about the Jazz fighting back in the fourth, but they didn’t close out the game and they once again were beat by one of the worst teams in the league.

“If I don’t [expletive] up the last play defensively, we end up winning the game. It’s never going to be all good or all bad. We’ve just got to find ways to put our self in a position to win.” —Rudy Gobert