Maybe it was the lack of Derrick Favors to protect the rim. Maybe the dog days of the NBA have caught up to the Utah Jazz in some respect.
Whatever the issue was with Ty Corbin’s team on Tuesday night, it reared its head in the first quarter and certainly on the defensive end.
In a 112-97 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at EnergySolutions Arena, the Jazz slept their way through the first quarter. The shoddy defensive result? A whopping 34 points for Minnesota on embarrassingly easy shots for just about everyone wearing a dark uniform.
Most teams can normally fight back from a sloppy defensive 12 minutes. But the Jazz on this night were equally inept offensively in the first quarter — scoring 16 points — and the defense never got better.
“We certainly made a lot of defensive lapses mentally, myself included,” Utah point guard Trey Burke said. “We have to get better on that end.”
The game — for all intents and purposes — was over. Minnesota led 34-16, and despite a few Jazz runs, the Timberwolves continued to sizzle offensively. Utah had to be alarmed by the defense of its first unit.
Without Favors — who sat out with an abductor strain — the starters surrendered the original 34 points, and then gave up another 30 in the third quarter.
Minnesota put all five starters in double figures. J.J. Barea came off the bench to score another 15 points. Every member of the Timberwolves entered the game. Even little-used rookie Shabazz Muhammad found his way into the scoresheet.
Things didn’t get much better offensively. Gordon Hayward scored a game-high 27 points, but no other Utah starter scored more than nine. The Jazz shot 47 percent from the field, 5-for-17 from 3-point range and turned the ball over 13 times.
“Defensively, not having Derrick was huge for us,” Corbin said. “You give up 34 points and only score 16 in the quarter, it’s tough fighting uphill from there. Derrick’s the one who protects the rim for us. Not having him there to do that was big and it affected a lot of what we tried to do.”