MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — After going 2 for 12 from the field in the first half, the shot that turned the tide for Donovan Mitchell was a free throw following a technical foul in the third quarter.
Forget the fact he missed it.
Mitchell said he was buoyed by the fact that Ricky Rubio, who usually shoots technical free throws, told him to take the shot instead.
“It was one of those things where it was like my teammates were still backing me,” Mitchell said after scoring 29 points in Utah’s 125-111 win over Minnesota on Sunday night. “And then we ran another play for me right out of that. I think that just shows the trust my teammates have in me.”
That call resulted in a three-point play for Mitchell, who had 13 points in the third quarter and led the surging Jazz to their ninth win in 10 games.
Shot after shot from the perimeter brought groan after groan from the Minnesota crowd as Utah shot 71 percent (27 of 38) during the second half for its second victory in three nights over the Timberwolves.
“The game wasn’t going the way I wanted to offensively, but I wasn’t panicking,” Mitchell said. “Like I said, when you have teammates that back you like that, it’s awesome. It makes it easy.”
Mitchell finished 10 of 22 from the floor and went 7 for 10 at the foul line. Rubio added 18 points with eight assists, and Rudy Gobert scored 17.
Andrew Wiggins led Minnesota with 35 points, and Karl-Anthony Towns added 22. Jerryd Bayless had a season-high 19.
Mitchell and Wiggins got hot trading baskets in the third. Minnesota briefly led 83-82 late in the period before Mitchell helped key a 21-9 run. Utah opened the fourth with three straight 3-pointers — two by Kyle Korver and one from Joe Ingles — to rebuild the lead to nine.
“Dribble penetration, that occurs a lot when you get sucked in and we don’t take care of things at the point of attack. Then we have to help each other and then open 3s occur,” Wolves interim coach Ryan Saunders said.
Utah led by as many as 14 in the fourth. The Timberwolves pulled within seven multiple times but couldn’t get another big stop on defense.
PATIENCE PAYS OFF
Along with Bayless, Luol Deng also had a season-high 15 points for Minnesota. Bayless has made the most of his opportunity filling in for the Wolves’ banged-up backcourt, and Deng has seen his playing time increase since Saunders took over when Tom Thibodeau was fired.
“It means a lot,” Bayless said. “Obviously it’s been a tough couple of years for me, realistically. So this is the first time I’ve really played in a long time, really got a chance to really play. So I’m just thankful for that, and hopefully it stays.”
Deng went 5 of 6 from the floor, including 3 for 4 from 3-point range.
“It feels good. I’ve just been staying ready, knowing that it’s a long season, staying positive and staying ready,” Deng said.
Towns’ 22 points were quiet compared to his team-high 33 on Friday night in Utah. The Jazz held him to two field goals in the second half.
“I had to focus more, not giving him the straight lane to the basket, make him earn everything,” Gobert said. “We did a good job as a team keeping him off the ball.”
Jazz: Korver, a 16-year veteran, entered averaging 20.4 minutes in 28 games with Utah, nearly five more minutes per game than he was playing for the Cavaliers before they traded him in November. “Kyle thinks he can play 42 minutes and he prepares that way,” coach Quin Snyder said of his 37-year-old shooting guard. “Kyle, at a certain point in his career became — I don’t know if I want to say obsessive — but unbelievably dedicated to taking care of his body. That’s why he’s playing at the level he’s playing at, at the age he is.” … Utah didn’t commit a turnover in the first quarter.
Timberwolves: Second-leading scorer Derrick Rose, who dressed on Friday but didn’t play, sat out with a sore right ankle. Rose joined G Jeff Teague (foot), F Robert Covington (knee) and G Tyus Jones (sprained ankle) on the injury report. Saunders said Covington, who hasn’t played since Dec. 31, has been doing more work on the stationary bike. … Josh Okogie caught an elbow from Gobert to the back of the head in the first quarter when both were going for a rebound. Gobert dunked on the play and Okogie stayed down for several moments before getting up.
Jazz: At the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.
Timberwolves: Host the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
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