- Associated Press - Saturday, January 7, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder wanted to limit George Hill’s shifts to shorter bursts in his return from a three-game absence due to a concussion.

That plan went out the window in the fourth quarter as Hill led a charge against the young Minnesota Timberwolves.

Hill scored 10 of his 19 points in the fourth and Rudy Gobert tipped in a rebound with 27.5 seconds to play to lift the Jazz to a 94-92 victory Saturday night.

“I think he understands who I am as a person,” said Hill, who played all 12 minutes in the quarter. “I think he understands if he would’ve pulled me out late there I would’ve been upset.”

Derrick Favors scored seven of his 15 points in the fourth and Gobert finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks as the Jazz rallied from 11 points down to start the final quarter. They still trailed by nine with three minutes to play, but closed on an 11-0 run.

“Given the fact that he hasn’t played in a while, even sporadically at that, to know you’ve got a guy that likes to compete like that is important,” Snyder said about Hill, who had played 36 minutes total in the last 18 games because of injuries.

Zach LaVine had 24 points, nine rebounds and four assists and Karl-Anthony Towns had 18 points and 15 rebounds for the Timberwolves. They have lost four straight games.

The Wolves went the final 4:41 without a field goal.

With Utah down 93-83 with 3:05 to play, Favors scored seven straight points for the Jazz, including a corner 3-pointer to cut it to 92-90 with 1:29 to play.

Andrew Wiggins missed a jumper on the other end and went 0 for 4 in the final 12 minutes and Hill made a pair at the line to tie the game with 52 seconds to play. After Gorgui Dieng missed a jumper, Gobert tipped in a miss, then forced a wild hook shot from Towns that caromed off the rim.

The Wolves had one more chance, but LaVine missed a jumper at the buzzer and they fell to 5-15 in “crunch time” games - defined by the scoring margin being five points or less in the final five minutes.

“When you’re losing that many games at the end,” point guard Ricky Rubio said, “the hoop gets smaller.”

TIP-INS

Jazz: It was the first game all season the Jazz had all 15 players healthy. … Trey Lyles scored 13 points off the bench. … Gordon Hayward had 16 points on 4-for-13 shooting.

Timberwolves: PG John Lucas III was waived on the deadline for his contract to become fully guaranteed for the season. Coach Tom Thibodeau said the team likes the added flexibility of an open roster spot as it looks at trades and available free agents. … F Shabazz Muhammad returned after missing the game Friday night with an illness. He had five points in 18 minutes.

FRUSTRATED THIBS

Thibodeau has a volatile demeanor on the sideline, barking at officials and cursing at turnovers and poor shot selection. But he dismissed a question on whether the players feed off of that energy when giving away big leads.

“You can look for all of the excuses you want,” Thibodeau said. “We have to get the job done. You can say this, that, whatever. We have to do our job. Everyone has to do their job.”

Players backed him, saying they had to be more mentally tough and not relax when they have a lead late. The Wolves are 0-10 in games decided by four points or less this season.

“We’ve just got to get a better attitude,” LaVine said. “We’ve got to stop playing so relaxed like we’ve done something. Stop letting go of the leads. Even though we’re up, it doesn’t really matter. It’s the NBA and we’ve blown almost every lead we’ve had.”

UP NEXT

Jazz: Utah wraps up a five-game road trip at Memphis on Sunday.

Timberwolves: Minnesota has the second of a four-game homestand when it hosts Dallas on Monday.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide