SALT LAKE CITY (AP)Early in the second half, Karl-Anthony Towns went to the hoop and was rejected by Rudy Gobert. After that, Towns didn’t even try to shoot inside the 3-point arc.
Worked out pretty well.
Towns tied a career high with seven 3s and scored 29 points to help the Minnesota Timberwolves hand the Utah Jazz their first home loss of the season, 112-102 on Monday night.
Running repeated pick-and-pops near the top of the key and drawing Gobert, the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, away from the basket paid dividends as the Timberwolves went on an 18-2 run in a stunning fourth quarter.
”I was feeling real good. I was feeling juiced,” said Towns, who said his teammates were encouraging him to keep shooting.
”Don’t worry about me,” he said back to the bench. ”I’m going to keep throwing them up and they’re going to go in.”
Towns matched a franchise record with his 15 attempts from 3-point range.
Without second-leading scorer Andrew Wiggins, the Timberwolves held the Jazz to season-low 36.8% shooting and were bolstered by Jeff Teague’s 21 points and 11 assists.
Rookie forward Kelan Martin had seven of his 14 points during Minnesota’s decisive run in the fourth, and Robert Covington added 15 points.
”I was just being confident. I saw lanes and was shooting my floaters . and that opened my game up,” Martin said.
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 18 points before fouling out and Donovan Mitchell had 17 points on 5-of-24 shooting for Utah.
The Jazz led 88-85 before the Timberwolves began a game-changing shooting streak.
Towns hit three consecutive 3s in the fourth, the final jumper from 29 feet with 4:45 to play. He stood and admired the shot long after it went in as Utah called a timeout.
”It looked real nice,” he said.
”Karl is a talent that can play inside and out and Rudy Gobert is an incredible defensive catalyst,” Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders said. ”So you want to do your best to keep him away from the basket as much as possible.”
Teague hit two free throws in the midst of Towns’ 3-point display and added a driving layup and two more foul shots a short time later.
The point guard then found Martin for a 3 and the largest lead of the night for either team at 103-90.
”Teague was able to drive the ball. Their whole group was able to get where they wanted more than we would like,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. ”When Towns is spaced like that it puts even more pressure on your individual defenders.”
Gobert had 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Jazz, who fell to 6-1 at home.
The Jazz went cold when they usually heat up, in the fourth quarter of home games.
”We started to do it individually instead of moving the ball. I took some terrible shots,” Mitchell said.
Wiggins missed his third straight game – the first two for personal reasons and this one due to illness. He was playing the best basketball of his career and had scored at least 25 points in six straight games. The Timberwolves lost their other two without the high-scoring wing.
SUMMER WORK PAYS OFF
Martin was playing in the G-League just last week but found himself on the floor and contributing down the stretch. Teague wasn’t surprised and had been waiting for this moment.
”I worked with him all summer at my gym in Indiana. I know what he’s capable of doing. He’s a confident player and once he saw one go down, he can get hot and he can score in bunches, so I was happy for him,” Teague said.
Towns said the best encouragement for the rookie was giving him the ball in pressure situations and trusting him.
”He’s a bona fide scorer and the most fundamental shooter on our team, and I know he can get hot. He’s a microwave,” Towns said.
Timberwolves: Towns got his fourth foul with 5:03 left in the third quarter by kicking Gobert during a 3-point attempt. … Shabazz Napier was out with a sore hamstring. … Minnesota has matched the 2015-16 season for the best road start in franchise history at 5-2.
Jazz: Utah looked disjointed in Jeff Green’s first extended run at center in Utah during the first half, and the Jazz were outscored by nine during the experiment. … Dante Exum played his first game of the season after knee surgery in March and scored two points in 14 minutes. … Emmanuel Mudiay drew a standing ovation with a fake behind-the-back-dribble drive that fooled his defender for a layup late in the third quarter.
Timberwolves: Host the Jazz on Wednesday night.
Jazz: Return engagement with the Timberwolves in Minnesota.
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