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Jazz defense shows up late vs. Timberwolves

Published January 23, 2012 11:18 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Wayne Ellington came off the screen, squared up and hit the 3-pointer that produced a fourth-quarter tie in Utah's matchup with Minnesota and silenced the crowd at EnergySolutions Arena.

It appeared Saturday night's game was going to come down to whoever had the last possession. Defense, as it had all game, appeared optional.

And then a funny thing happened: The Jazz locked down. They started getting stops. They won the rebounding battle, and from there they pulled away to a 108-98 victory.

"Man, it's something we should've been doing in the first quarter," Jazz center Al Jefferson said. "The key is we started getting stops. We went into the fourth quarter ready to do that. It's better late than never, but we have to do it all game because Minnesota is a different team. They aren't the same team as when I played. They are talented and they play hard. All they need is experience."

Following Ellington's shot, which allowed the Timberwolves to tie the game at 84, Utah surrendered just 14 points for the rest of the game.

That's 17 points in all, when Minnesota had scored at least 26 points in the first three periods.

Some would say the Timberwolves tired down the stretch, and maybe there's truth to that, since they were playing their second game in as many nights. But Utah simply took the Timberwolves out of what they wanted to do.

"I think we finally figured them out," point guard Earl Watson said. "We took them out of their sets, we rebounded, and we limited them to one shot. That's a unique and athletic team, and it took some time for us to pinpoint what they wanted to do."

Defensively, the Jazz harassed Kevin Love into a 5-of-21 shooting night. Minnesota had 11 turnovers to go with 17 assists and, most importantly, the fourth quarter was played in the halfcourt, which limited Ricky Rubio's effectiveness after he put on a show in the first three periods.

That allowed Utah to slow the game and pound the ball inside to Paul Millsap, who made Love's life miserable offensively with a game-high 26 points.

tjones@sltrib.com —

Key stats

• Minnesota shoots 6 for 20 in the fourth quarter

• The Timberwolves score 17 total points in the final period

• The Utah Jazz move to 10-5 on the season






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