Although the Utah Jazz has a losing record amid a roster overhaul, the team was competitive in most games.
Monday night was an embarrassing exception to that rule.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah’s next opponent, probably feel even worse about their most recent game in a Wednesday game against the Jazz in Salt Lake City.
The Jazz slumped in the fourth quarter in a 124-111 home loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, who played without Luka Doncic and every player involved in the Kyrie Irving trade.
Utah was defeated by the unlikely duo of Josh Green and Jaden Hardy, who each scored a career-high 29 points.
“It was super fun,” Hardy said.
The Hardy from the other locker room disagreed.
Jazz coach Will Hardy said, “This is the first game all season where I felt disappointed in our focus. There (are) always nights when bounces don’t go your way, but I felt like collectively we didn’t have the necessary focus . on the little things. That’s why we lost the game.”
As for the Timberwolves, they trailed by 30 points after the first quarter in Denver on Tuesday and never recovered, taking a 146-112 shellacking of the Nuggets.
No one struggled more than former jazz center Rudy Gobert, who went scoreless on 0-for-2 shooting and grabbed just five rebounds. Denver center Nikola Jokic, meanwhile, recorded a triple-double in 28 minutes, tallying 20 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds.
The only positive for Gobert? He played just 19 minutes, so he should be well rested for his second return trip to Utah, where he played nine seasons and won the Defensive Player of the Year title three times.
Gobert looked like his usual All-Star self when Minnesota visited Utah on December 9, collecting 22 points and 13 rebounds in the Timberwolves’ 118–108 victory.
The Stifle Tower played just five minutes in the Timberwolves’ 126-125 loss to Utah on Jan. 16 in Minneapolis. On that night, Jazz rookie center Walker Kessler, who was a stretch in the blockbuster Gobert trade last season, had career highs of 20 points and 21 rebounds.
Kessler has been a bright spot for the Jazz, playing even better than his averages of 7.9 points and 7.4 rebounds would suggest. He also blocks 2.1 shots per game with an average of just 20.4 minutes.
Although the 6-foot-tall rookie played better against Dallas, finishing with 13 points, nine rebounds and three blocks — compared to two points and five boards in the previous game vs. the Atlanta Hawks — the Jazz seemed out of whack against the Mavericks.
“They hurt us on the attack glass, got out in transition and started to feel good about themselves,” said Hardy, whose team blew a 15-point lead. “Basketball is a game that’s very momentum-based. … There’s obviously an emotional aspect to an NBA game, and I thought they clearly picked up the momentum.”
On a positive note for Minnesota, the team was joined on the current road trip by Karl-Anthony Towns, who has been sidelined since late November with a calf injury.
“It’s good for him to get back into the rhythm of the team,” said Timberwolves coach Chris Finch. “It was great just having him around.”
— Field level media
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This story was originally published on February 8, 2023 at 2:49 AM.