Wolves win big against woeful Utah Jazz to finish home-and-home sweep
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SALT LAKE CITY -- Kevin Love had 19 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists to help the Minnesota Timberwolves run past Utah 112-97 on Tuesday night and sweep a home-and-home set with the Jazz.
Ricky Rubio has returned to his spontaneous, free-flowing style and had 11 points and 13 assists for the Wolves, who snapped a seven-game losing streak in Utah.
Corey Brewer scored 19 points and Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin each contributed 18. Each time the Jazz threatened to get close in the fourth quarter, J.J. Barea hit big baskets and had 15 points to keep the Jazz at bay.
Gordon Hayward returned from a five-game absence to lead the Jazz with 27 points, but he was the only starter in double figures.
The Jazz went 2-3 in Hayward's absence, including a 98-72 road loss to Minnesota where Utah set a record for worst field goal percentage in franchise history at 28.8 percent.
A team that seemed disjointed and frustrated during a three-game losing streak a week ago, the Timberwolves apparently needed a couple of matchups with the Jazz to break out of the funk.
The Timberwolves ran crisp sets and were eager to make the extra pass to wide-open teammates. Minnesota led 84-62 at the end of three quarters as it assisted on 23 of its first 30 field goals.
The Timberwolves picked up right where they left off on Saturday, using a 17-2 run in the first quarter to stake a commanding lead that ballooned to 18 points. Love hit a 3-pointer and Brewer dunked to make the score 30-12 in the first quarter.
Love's 35th double-double propelled the Wolves to their first consecutive wins since they beat Washington and Milwaukee on Dec. 27-28.
Hayward was having the best three-game set of his career before injuring his left hip and being sidelined five games. But he scored early and often despite the layoff.
His teammates, though, seemed powerless to stop Minnesota's attack. The Jazz missed starting center Derrick Favors, who was out with a right hip injury.
After losing 14 of their first 15 games, the Jazz have been playing about .500 and hadn't lost two consecutive since losing to San Antonio and Miami on Dec. 14 and 16.
The Wolves were again the aggressors against the Jazz and made 22 of 24 free throws.
Hayward's 3-pointer drew the Jazz 58-47, but Minnesota responded with a 10-0 surge that ended with Martin's three-point play.
--The game was stopped twice in the third quarter, first for a cut on Martin's right pinkie finger that bled onto the court and then to wipe up excess moisture after the initial clean-up effort.© The Associated Press