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NBA: Jazz await Wolves team in COVID limbo

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It is unclear what players the Minnesota Timberwolves will have available for Thursday night’s game against the Utah Jazz at Salt Lake City.

The Wolves hosted the Dallas Mavericks – and lost – Tuesday night in a game marred by COVID-19-related absences. Minnesota was without Anthony Edwards, Patrick Beverley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Josh Okogie and Taurean Prince against the Mavericks because they were in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

But Minnesota coach Chris Finch isn’t about to let his team use that to justify underperforming.

“Listen, it is what it is. Who knows what the next couple of days may bring?” Finch said. “We may go down guys further. Hopefully not. But that’s no excuse. We got to go out there and play. We need to have some better performances.”

Seventeen turnovers plagued the Wolves in Tuesday’s loss. That included five from Karl-Anthony Towns, who led the team with 26 points and 14 rebounds.

“Turnovers always hurt, especially when you’re behind and you need every basket, you need every possession,” Finch said. “And the shot selection was what hurt us way more than the turnovers.”

The second quarter was also brutal as the Timberwolves only hit 27.8 percent of their shots while being outscored 27-15, leading to a 61-50 Dallas lead at halftime and a 114-102 loss. Minnesota had won four in a row before that slip-up.

“All across the board, our best guys got to step up and lead us,” Finch said. “And our guys that haven’t had a chance to play much now have a chance to play and they got to get out there and they got to fight.”

The Jazz can probably empathize with Minnesota’s second-quarter troubles. Utah blew a double-digit lead for the third consecutive home game Monday against the Charlotte Hornets in part due to a rough second quarter when the Jazz scored only 19 points while shooting 23.8 percent from the field.

That was among the reasons why Utah blew a 22-point lead against a Charlotte team playing its second game in as many nights. They managed to finish off a 112-102 victory.

“I thought the second quarter, we weren’t in sync like we were the other three quarters,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.

Wasting a double-digit lead came back to bite the Jazz in the standings over the weekend when the Spurs and Wizards each rallied to win in Utah.

“We got to where we wanted,” Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said of Monday’s victory. “They played a zone and we were able to break it and get into the paint. Sometimes shots don’t go in and you got to step up on the defensive end. It’s tough when you’re missing shots and they’re hitting tough shots.”

Rudy Gobert made it tough on the Hornets, too. He scored 23 points, including a career-best 15 of 16 free throws, and grabbed 21 rebounds. Utah’s rebounding edge of 68-51 helped overcome a subpar 3-point shooting effort: 16 of 53, 30.2 percent.

“We could have blown them out easily, but we couldn’t hit any threes,” Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic said after scoring 23 points with five 3-pointers. “At the end of the day, who cares?”

–Field Level Media

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