Millsap Scores 30 To Lift Jazz Over Timberwolves
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Paul Millsap scored 30 points, Earl Watson had a season-high 13 assists in place of injured Deron Williams, and the Utah Jazz beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 108-100 on Friday night to halt a six-game losing streak.
Andrei Kirilenko added a season-high 27 points and had a key steal in the final minute for the Jazz (28-19).
The Timberwolves fell to 10-36 and have lost six straight despite Kevin Love’s 32nd consecutive double-double. He had 22 points and 15 rebounds.
The Jazz were without leading scorer Williams for the first time this season because of a hyperextended right wrist.
But Watson, making his first start in a Jazz uniform, brought the same energy he usually provides off the bench. He had four assists in the first five minutes and seven in the first quarter as Utah jumped out to a 32-25 lead.
After Love scored seven points in the third quarter to tie it at 55, Watson ignited an 8-0 Jazz run.
He hit a jumper, Kirilenko and Al Jefferson followed with consecutive dunks and Millsap scored again to make it 74-66.
Reserve guard Ronnie Price gave the Jazz their biggest lead a minute into the fourth quarter when he hit a 3-pointer to make it 90-79. The Timberwolves fought back, with Luke Ridnour’s jumper pulling them within 92-91 with 7:39 remaining.
Love grabbed an offensive rebound and cut it to 101-95 with 2:50 remaining, then forced Jefferson to foul out with 1:37 left on a 3-point attempt. Love made all three free throws to cut it to 101-98.
Millsap hit a jump shot with the shot clock winding down for a 105-100 lead with 46 seconds left, then Kirilenko stole it from Michael Beasley to seal the win for Utah.
Wesley Johnson kept the Timberwolves close in the first quarter with eight points off the bench, going 2 of 2 from beyond the arc. He pulled Minnesota within 44-40 with 7:24 left in the second with six points in a 3-minute span, including an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Martell Webster.
The Jazz led 58-55 at halftime thanks to an 18-7 edge in fast-break points. The Timberwolves stayed close by shooting 51 percent, including 5 of 10 from beyond the arc.
It wasn’t enough in the end, even with the Jazz missing their leading scorer.
Williams announced after the morning practice that he wouldn’t play because of the wrist, which he injured Wednesday in a 39-point effort against San Antonio.
“I feel like I can’t hold the ball. If I could play, I could play,” Williams said. “I’m not one of them people that sits out for little injuries. My goal every year is to play 82 games, so I’m (ticked) off I can’t play. But I can’t play.”
Williams missed two games last season because of a right wrist injury. An MRI taken Thursday showed no structural damage.
Notes: The Jazz led 58-55 at halftime, the first time they have won a half since Jan. 17 … Utah’s 32 points in the first quarter were the most in an opening quarter since Dec. 1. … Jazz reserve C Mehmet Okur did not play in the second half because of a lower-back straight. … Jazz reserve C Kyrylo Fesenko did not play because of a sinus infection.
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