MINNEAPOLIS (AP)Rudy Gobert grabbed the pass from Karl-Anthony Towns in the paint and soared to a wide-open basket for what would’ve given Minnesota the tying dunk with 34 seconds left in overtime.
Mike Conley stopped his close friend and former teammate short of the rim, producing another promising sequence for the upstart Utah Jazz.
Jordan Clarkson scored 29 points on 7-for-12 shooting from 3-point range to lead the rally, and the Jazz outlasted Gobert and the Timberwolves 132-126 on Friday night.
Lauri Markkanen had 24 points and 13 rebounds and got a leaner in the lane to fall with 12 seconds left in the extra period to put the Jazz up by four.
Conley gave the Jazz the lead for good with a 3-pointer with 1:01 left. Then he foiled Gobert’s dunk, and Gobert – who finished with nine points and 23 rebounds – missed both free throws to leave the Jazz lead at 128-126.
”That’s Mike. He wants to win. He’s willing to put his body on the line when he has to,” Hardy said.
Anthony Edwards scored 30 points for Minnesota, Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points and D’Angelo Russell added 23 points including the tying jumper with 4.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Jaylen Nowell had 18 points for the Timberwolves, who led by as many as 17 points in the first half.
”We’ve got to do a better job of just making it more difficult on them,” Towns said.
Clarkson and Kelly Olynyk – who had 21 points – made a pair of 3-pointers apiece during a 12-2 spurt that gave the Jazz a 120-113 lead with 1:54 left in regulation.
Gobert’s three-point play with 44 seconds to go brought the Timberwolves within two, when he grabbed his own miss, drew the foul on Olynyk and let out a primal scream from the flex pose.
When Markkanen missed a jumper on the other end, Olynyk was called for a foul in the rebound tangle with Towns. Russell faked Conley to the floor with a killer crossover to set up his pull-up bank shot that tied the game.
But the Jazz followed their 21-point victory over Denver with another steely performance against a 2022 playoff team.
”They understand that based on what certain people say about them that we are sort of an underdog, and I like that our team has a chip on their shoulder,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said.
The Timberwolves turned a 16-point lead into a six-point deficit during the third quarter in their season-opening win over Oklahoma City, and they came out of halftime with another janky performance against the Jazz with unforced errors and awkward shots that killed their fast break.
The trade that sent Gobert to Minnesota for four players and five first-round draft picks was only part of the offseason makeover for the Jazz.
Gobert’s good friends, Clarkson, Conley and Rudy Gay, remained – he met them for dinner the night before – but the rest of the roster was unrecognizable to the 7-foot-1 native of France whose first nine seasons in the NBA were with Utah.
”On the scoreboard it was a little weird, but it was better than I thought. At no time, I thought I was on the other team,” Gobert said.
Jazz: Jarred Vanderbilt (14 rebounds) and Malik Beasley (15 points) played valuable roles against their former team. Both players got a welcome from the public address announcer during pregame introductions along with rookie Walker Kessler, who spent barely a week on Minnesota’s roster between the draft and the trade.
Timberwolves: Towns is 11 for 27 from the floor in two games. … Sixth man Kyle Anderson left with back spasms in the first quarter after playing just 38 seconds. He did not return to the bench.
Jazz: At New Orleans on Sunday night.
Timberwolves: At Oklahoma City on Sunday night.
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