SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah fans were yelling “All Star, All Star” after Paul Millsap hit another basket in the fourth quarter.
The unassuming Millsap claims he didn’t even hear the chants.
“I didn’t even know people were chanting, you just brought it to my attention. I sure appreciate it, though,” said Millsap, who scored 12 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter to power the Utah Jazz past the Minnesota Timberwolves 108-98 on Saturday night.
Matched up against Kevin Love, Millsap shot 6 of 7 in the final period on a variety of fallaway jumpers and shots at the rim to help the Jazz win for the ninth time in 11 games.
Millsap doesn’t mind if he isn’t mentioned with the best power players in the game.
“If people look past you, you can fly under the radar, you know?” Millsap said. “We’re just trying to get better and trying to win games.”
Ricky Rubio, who had 17 points and 11 assists, made a jumper with 5:01 to play to cut the Jazz lead to 100-96. But Minnesota ran out of gas one night after a dramatic win in Los Angeles against the Clippers.
“You feel it in your legs a lot, in the last part especially,” Rubio said.
The Timberwolves missed six straight shots and had two turnovers down the stretch.
“We got stops,” said Al Jefferson, who had 18 points and 12 rebounds. “The offense is going to be there for us but when we play defensively like we did down the stretch we can be really good.”
CJ Miles added 18 points as the Jazz shot 52 percent and outrebounded Minnesota 46-35.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Rubio and Luke Ridnour ignored the action on the floor and berated the officials.
“We have to find a way that if stuff’s not called we can play our way through it. Too many times tonight we let it affect us too much and you got to learn how to do that,” Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said.
Love had 15 points and eight rebounds, but shot 5 of 21 from the field and was visibly frustrated at times. He committed four turnovers and was whistled for a technical in the third.
“It was a tough shooting night,” Love said. “Most of my shots are right there, in and out. There will be a point in the season where I’m going to go on a hell of a run, I know I am.”
It was a contrast to Friday night’s game when Love hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer after Rubio’s 3 tied the game with 20 seconds to play to help the Timberwolves nip the Clippers.
The Timberwolves had won three straight for the first time since a four-game stretch from Jan. 29 to Feb. 6, 2010.
In a matchup of two young teams on the rise, the Jazz rebounded from a deflating home loss to Dallas on Thursday and relied on Millsap when the going got tough.
“It was very important, especially being a young team to bounce back after a devastating loss like Thursday night. This was a big win for us, a big challenge, and we responded,” Millsap said.
The 6-foot-8 forward is riding a hot streak, averaging 22 points and shooting over 60 percent the last seven games while facing some of the NBA’s top power forwards.
“Paul just continues to work to get better. As a result, we’re better because he’s so effective on the floor. He’s been doing it all year,” Utah coach Ty Corbin said.
Raja Bell’s jumper capped a 10-2 run to lift Utah’s lead to 70-58 and he then hit another jump shot to make it 76-62 for the Jazz with 5:26 left in the third quarter.
Bell had 12 points and Earl Watson played the final 15 minutes and finished with 10 points and seven assists.
“That’s what we need. He sparks us and we follow him,” Millsap said of Watson.
Behind the playmaking of Rubio, the Timberwolves fought back with a 13-2 run to tie the game at 84. Wayne Ellington opener the fourth-quarter scoring with a 3-pointer to draw the Wolves even for the first time since the first half.
But nothing came easy for the Timberwolves after that.
“We took them out of their sets, out of what they wanted to do,” Millsap said. “We had a lot of deflections in the fourth quarter. We got out and guarded them.”
Derrick Williams had 15 points and Wes Johnson scored 13, while Darko Milicic, Ridnour and Ellington each had 10 points for the Timberwolves, who return to Minnesota to play three of the next four at home.
Notes: Key reserve Josh Howard missed his fourth straight game with a strained left quadriceps. … Minnesota played without J.J. Barea (sprained ankle) for the fifth time in six games and Michael Beasley (right foot sprain) for the ninth consecutive contest. Fellow Wolves Brad Miller, Martell Webster and Malcolm Lee have missed the entire season. … Derrick Favors expressed surprise at the $25,000 fine he received Saturday for throwing a ball into the stands during Utah’s 94-91 loss Thursday night against Dallas. He said he may appeal.
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