Utah Jazz: Millsap puts old-fashion hurt on Minnesota
He looked like the old Paul Millsap on Tuesday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
After the Jazz's 112-107 victory over Minnesota, however, Millsap just looked old.
With both knees and an elbow wrapped in ice, Millsap slowly hobbled around the locker room, looking like a heavyweight boxer who had just gone 12 rounds -- and lost.
Playing for only the second time since a three-game absence because of a bruised knee, Millsap played a team-high 41 minutes. He finished with 28 points -- just four shy of his season-high -- and 15 rebounds.
Millsap grabbed nine offensive rebounds, which the Jazz converted into 10 critical points in a game that was not decided until the final two minutes.
"Millsap is stepping up and being a heck of a player right now," said the Timberwolves' Al Jefferson. "Much respect for his game."
Asked how his knee felt after he notched his 20th double-double of the season, Millsap winced and said, "When I got to running around on it, I couldn't feel it. But I feel it now."
Coming off a four-point, three-rebound effort in his return from injury at Dallas on Saturday, Millsap said, "I just wanted to step up. I had a tough last game; I'm not used to doing that. I felt like I needed to crash the boards hard tonight, and it got me some easy baskets."
The Jazz opened the game with 12 straight points. Millsap had three points, three rebounds and a steal in the opening 2:08.
"When I crash the boards, it opens up a lot of other things for me," he said. "
Already without Carlos Boozer, the Jazz lost Andrei Kirilenko in the second quarter because of a sore ankle. His injury put an even bigger burden on Millsap, since Kirilenko's absence made an already small team even smaller.
"We had to try and keep them out of the lane, especially with our shot blocker out," Millsap said. "Keep them away from the basket -- that's what we wanted to do."
Despite leading all the way, the Jazz watched Minnesota get as close as 87-86 with 9:53 left and 97-96 with 4:28 remaining in the game.
At that point, however, Minnesota did not score for 3½ minutes.
"Our defense really stepped up," said Millsap. "Our guys were helping each other. Guys were running all over the court. That was big for us."
Despite squandering most of a 14-point lead, Millsap added, "We felt like we were in control. So when they cut it down to one, we knew what we had to do to get it back up. We got away from running our stuff a few times and they capitalized on it."