Kevin Love endures long night as Wolves fall to Jazz in Utah
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The Minnesota Timberwolves gave the Utah Jazz all they could handle in Saturday's 108-98 loss, but they couldn't get over the hump less than 24 hours after one of the most emotional wins in recent team history.
In the NBA, teams often go as their stars go, and Kevin Love -- the hero with long 3-pointer as time expired in Friday's win over the Clippers in Los Angeles -- put together probably his worst game of the season on Saturday.
The All-Star scored just 15 points on 5-of-21 shooting, including 1-of-7 from behind the 3-point arc. He also grabbed only eight rebounds, snapping his streak of 15 consecutive double-doubles to start the season, and he turned over the ball four times.
Jazz center Al Jefferson got the better of his former teammate Love, scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
Ricky Rubio led the team in scoring with 17 points and 11 assists for his league-leading sixth points-assists double-double.
The Wolves went punch-for-punch with the home Jazz in the first half, heading into the locker room trailing just 56-54.
Derrick Williams got extended run when Love picked up his second foul with 4:23 to go in the first quarter and the rookie stood out, playing one of the best games of his young career with a career-high 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting in 28 minutes off the bench.
The Jazz opened up the third quarter with a 20-8 run that nearly buried the road-weary Wolves, who battled back to cut the deficit to 84-81 after a Williams put-back.
Wayne Ellington -- who continued to be a spark off the depleted Wolves bench, scoring 10 points in 24 minutes -- tied the game early in the final frame with a 3-pointer.
That was the closest the Wolves got in their quest for their fourth consecutive victory, though. Paul Millsap had a game-high 26 points for Utah and the Wolves will have to wait for their next road trip to win back-to-back games away from Target Center.
2: Technical fouls for Love after he picked up his second against the Jazz in the third quarter after the Jazz opened up the half with a 10-4 run.
16: Minutes for Darko Milicic, who left the game in the first half with a shoulder injury but returned to start the third quarter. He was productive for a second straight night, scoring 10 points and grabbing four rebounds.
13: Points for Wesley Johnson, who was 5-of-6 from the field and even managed to get to the free-throw line after a first quarter drive. He also had six rebounds and two assists.
J.J. Barea (ankle sprain) and Michael Beasley (foot sprain) did not make the two-game West coast trip, electing to stay in the Twin Cities for treatment.
Beasley wasn't expected to make the trip and is said to still be a few days away from recovery, but Barea not traveling came as a bit of a surprise.
Barea returned Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings and played 14 minutes, scoring eight points and grabbing a rebound. He spoke with reporters afterwards and said he felt close to 100% and didn't indicate he would miss any further time.
Martell Webster (back) and Brad Miller (knee) returned to practice this week and traveled with the Wolves but didn't play in either game and weren't really expected to. Coach Rick Adelman is going to be cautious in bringing back both veterans, especially with the team winning three of their last four games.
Monday is one of the dates that Wolves fans circled on their calendars when the lockout-shortened 66-game schedule was released.
Former Wolves coach and general manager Kevin McHale returns to Target Center for the first time since he wasn't brought back after the 2009 season.
The onetime "Cheers" guest star has the Rockets at 9-7 and just a half-game back in the Southwest division.