SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Jazz had Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert in the starting lineup together Friday night for the first time since Nov. 30. After going 13-17 in that span without them, Utah welcomed the duo’s return for the opening tip.
Rodney Hood scored 22 points, Favors had 20 in his first start since returning from injury and the Jazz beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 103-90 on Friday night.
Utah has won consecutive games for the first time in nearly three weeks.
“I had a month off with my injury, so I had a little energy,” Favors said. “We’ve still got to work on a lot of stuff because I missed time, Rudy missed time. So there’s still a lot of stuff we’ve got to work on.
“Overall, I think we’re relieved that everybody’s back healthy and we’re going to try to make a push.”
The Timberwolves kept it tight until late in the third quarter, when the Jazz closed on a 14-0 run that started with Favors’ put-back dunk and ended with Trey Burke’s 3-pointer.
“Our guys got tired, we made substitutions and we just didn’t come in with the same energy,” Timberwolves interim coach Sam Mitchell said. “We missed some shots, they played some defense, but we just had that stretch in the third quarter where we went to our bench and that group couldn’t score enough.
“The guys were tired. Our guys do a good job. They play hard and they asked to come out the game and we got to get them out of the game.”
This was Favors’ third game back and first as a starter since missing 16 games with a back/hip injury. He showed touch on his jumper, strength in the post and also had nine rebounds while playing 35 minutes.
Hood reached 20 points for the fourth time in five games.
“I’ve been pushing our team pretty hard, mentally as much as physically,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “… I still feel like we’ve got to keep grinding because we’ve got guys back and we’re trying to figure out who we are.
“Rodney’s just asserting himself through those opportunities.”
Karl-Anthony Towns led Minnesota with 32 points and 12 rebounds, and Gorgui Dieng added 20 points and 15 rebounds. Towns is the youngest player to have 30 points and 10 rebounds since Kevin Durant in 2008.
Towns and Dieng gave the Jazz fits, especially early, but the rest of the Timberwolves starters combined to score eight points.
“I played like crap today,” said Towns, who has been sick recently. “I didn’t play well defensively. Offensively, I was just finding spots. My teammates were the ones that got me points. I didn’t get myself points.
“When I tried to make something for myself I was missing layups, missing shots. My teammates are the ones that made the stat sheet. I didn’t.”
The Jazz reached the 50-point mark in the first half for just the second time in 11 games and led 56-55 at the break.
Timberwolves: Kevin Garnett missed his third consecutive game with a sore right knee. … Kevin Martin missed his third straight game due to a sore right wrist. … Tayshaun Prince, Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins, Towns and Dieng started for the fifth time this season. The team is 0-5 when that unit starts.
Jazz: Gobert scored 14 points and had 12 rebounds. He missed time earlier this season with a knee injury. … The entire 15-man Jazz roster has 32 combined years of NBA experience. Garnett and Prince have 33 alone. … Alec Burks missed his 18th game with a broken left fibula, but he did some shooting before the game and is no longer using a scooter to walk around.
The Jazz have struggled with injuries all season, but the return of Gobert and Favors presents a good problem. While they were out, rookie Trey Lyles developed and started 29 games, and finding time for him and Trevor Booker just got more difficult.
“There’s an adjustment phase now because there’s just less minutes out there and you’d like to be able to play everybody,” Snyder said. “That’s hard because, obviously, Derrick’s one of our better players and he’ll be in there. But I hope it strengthens our bench.”
A TOUCH OF SARCASM
Snyder was asked about the opportunity to win three consecutive games for the first time this season on Monday.
“‘I’m in search of consistency, so maybe we’ll just lose and keep it steady,” Snyder said.
The Timberwolves travel to face the Trail Blazers on Sunday.
The Jazz host the Bulls on Monday.
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