Minneapolis • Here was Jeremy Evans, former NBA Slam Dunk Champion, soaring into the key, grabbing an offensive rebound — and then missing the putback at the rim.
“Oh, man. It was horrible,” Evans said, reflecting back on that frustratingly futile sequence late in the second quarter Saturday. “I told myself, ‘There’s no way I’m going to miss these shots. There’s definitely a lid on this thing.’ That just explains what kind of night we had.”
Indeed, Evans was not alone in his struggles at the Target Center, as the Jazz closed out their three-game road swing with a 98-72 blowout loss at the hands of the Timberwolves.
The 6-foot-10 Derrick Favors was stuffed by the rim in the first half and then missed a sure dunk badly on his second try. Rookie point guard Trey Burke, meanwhile, hit just two of his 10 shots from the floor.
They weren’t alone either.
How bad was Utah’s shooting? Historically so.
The team’s 28.8 field goal percentage (21 for 73) was the worst in franchise history. The Jazz’s previous low came on Nov. 14, 2005, in New York City, when the team converted 29.3 percent of its shots.
“One of those nights, man. One of those nights,” said forward Marvin Williams, who went 1 for 5 and finished with five points. “… They were playing tough. They were overplaying some things. They did a good job of playing physical. But guys were just missing shots they normally made. It wasn’t like they were taking us out of things we were trying to do.”
With the game tied at 9 early, Minnesota went on a 9-0 run capped off by a behind-the-back pass from Ricky Rubio to Nikola Pekovic for two of his game-high 27 points.
By halftime, Minnesota’s Kevin Martin had 16 of his 20 points and forward Kevin Love had already notched his league-leading 34th double-double of the season.
The Jazz, on the other hand, mustered just 23 points in the first half, a season-low in a season with plenty of them.
“Right from the beginning we didn’t have any pep to us, didn’t have any energy,” said Jazz coach Ty Corbin. “We settled for jump shots and they were going to the basket.”
And they went there often. Thanks in large part to Pekovic, the T-wolves outscored the Jazz 50-18 in the paint and built up a 36-point lead at point.
“They didn’t have an answer for him,” Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said of his center.
Utah guard Alec Burks, starting in place of the injured Gordon Hayward for a fifth straight game, scored nine points in the third quarter, matching the team’s output in the previous period. Burks finished with a team-high 18 points — the only Jazz player to reach double-figures.
The Jazz looked tired from the outset. They were playing their third game in four nights and coming off a rout of the Detroit Pistons the night before in Michigan.
“Everything was short or flat,” Williams said. “Maybe our legs were a little bit tired but you can’t make excuses about that.”
Minnesota was also playing in the second half of a back-to-back and looked eager to put a three-game losing streak behind.
The loss dropped Utah to 14-28 on the season.
The Jazz now return home for a Tuesday rematch with the Timberwolves at EnergySolutions Arena.
“If we come with effort like this … we’re going to have trouble all year long,” Corbin said. “We have to understand we can’t play this way.”