SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Gordon Hayward scored a career-high 39 points and the Utah Jazz rallied from an 11-point deficit to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 120-113 on Friday night.
Hayward and Joe Johnson powered a 40-point third quarter in which the Jazz came from behind and took the lead for good with a 16-7 run. Hayward scored 30 in his second consecutive game and Johnson threw in 22 off the bench. The pair combined to shoot 8 for 10 from behind the arc.
Every time Minnesota got close in the final minutes, Hayward hit a jumper to extend the lead.
The defensive-minded Jazz shot 60 percent from the field as they were forced to outscore the Timberwolves with the defense lacking.
Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves with 32 points and 13 rebounds, and Ricky Rubio added 26 points. Andrew Wiggins finished with 25.
The Timberwolves led 60-55 at halftime and were ahead by 11 midway through the second quarter. An 11-4 run punctuated by Kris Dunn’s 3-pointer pushed the lead to double digits, but the Jazz answered with a 13-2 stretch to tie things at 51 apiece.
Timberwolves: Minnesota shot 51.4 percent in the first half, but allowed the Jazz to shoot 56.8 percent. … The 113 points were the most scored against the Jazz this season.
Jazz: George Hill (groin) and Raul Neto (groin) did not play. … Derrick Favors (knee) returned after missing the last 14 games and scored 13 in 15 minutes.
The Jazz increased their lead over the Clippers for the No. 4 Western Conference playoff seed to one game.
Towns, the reigning Rookie of the Year, was not an All-Star in his sophomore season, but coach Tom Thibodeau said his star center has improved in every way this season. His points, rebounds, assists and 3-point shooting have all increased.
“He’s scoring in so many different ways,” Thibodeau said. “Back to the basket, catch-and-shoot, pick-and-roll. In transition, he can handle the ball. Has great touch. Can shoot the 3. Probably hasn’t gotten to the line as much as we would like, but I think that will come in time.
“The rebounding has been off the chart all year and the defense is something he continues to work on.”
Timberwolves: Minnesota travels to face the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
Jazz: Utah travels to face a Portland Trail Blazers team fighting for the last Western Conference playoff spot on Saturday.
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