Thursday night had to have been a welcome sight. First, the trade deadline came and passed. Secondly, the Utah Jazz revenged a heart-breaking loss in February by defeating division rivals Minnesota Timberwolves 111-105 in pressure-filled overtime game.
The game featured great performances by players from both teams. Five Timberwolves scored in double-figures, while six did so for the Jazz.
Epitome of a Jazzman: Paul Millsap is used to hit tough, twisting, improbable shots with guys two to four inches taller draped on him. That heightens the shock Jazz fans, and mostly Millsap himself, felt when he missed an open gimme that would’ve sealed the game.
It is safe to say that he redeemed himself.
Millsap was tough in the overtime, playing intense defense and hitting the dagger jumper with 19 second left in the game. His line showed how much of an imprint he left on the game’s outcome: 16 points, 11 rebounds, a career-high eight steals, four assists and two blocked shots in 38 physical minutes. He was able to successfully poke the ball away at crucial junctures.
And the rare emotion he showed at the end of the game was well-earned.
The young shall lead: Once again, Utah Jazz fans caught a glimpse into the future, and perhaps by indications tonight, the present. Promising youngsters Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Alec Burks were able to contribute mightily to the game’s outcome.
Hayward continued to show increased confidence off the bench, shooting shots in rhythm. Doing much of his damage from the perimeter, the second-year man paced the Jazz with 26 points, three assists, and three rebounds. He played with great poise as he capitalized on many aggressive plays on the offensive end.
Favors showed his ability to positively affect the game defensively, snaring 16 rebounds in just 22 minutes — eight on the offensive glass. He also blocked four shots and altered many others. He was key to big Utah runs in both the second and fourth quarters.
And last but not least, Burks went from not playing the past two games to playing a career-best 31 minutes. He finished the entire fourth quarter and overtime for coach Tyrone Corbin. Burks was extremely effective on both sides of the game. He matched his career-high with 15 points.
Cleaning the glass: With 13.6 per outing, Kevin Love entered the game as the second leading rebounder in the NBA. As a team, Minnesota was ranked third in the league with 44.2. On Thursday, it was Utah who dominated the boards.
Led by sophomore Derrick Favors’ spirited effort and Millsap’s consistent rebounding prowess, the Jazz won the rebounding battle 55-47. The gap closed greatly the last six minutes of the fourth quarter, including the game-tying offensive rebound and putback by Minnesota big man Nikola Pekovic.
Al Jefferson added 13 caroms of his own and rookie Enes Kanter snatched six in just 13 minutes of playing time.
David Smith is providing instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage this season. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.
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