Utah Jazz beat Timberwolves in double OT to finish season
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9), of Spain, tries to shake off Utah Jazz guard Trey Burke (3) on a drive during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Minneapolis, Wednesday, April 16, 2014. The Jazz won 136-130 in double overtime. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
By Aaron Falk
The Salt Lake Tribune
First published Apr 16 2014 10:37PM Updated Apr 17, 2014 08:45AM
Ty Corbin promised his team would fight to the end. And on Wednesday night in Minnesota, they finally did. The Jazz snapped a five-game losing streak, capping a difficult season of rebuilding with a victory — a feat that hasn’t come easy or often this year — as they downed the Timberwolves 136-130 in double-overtime. Rookie point guard Trey Burke led the way with a team-high 32 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Swingman Gordon Hayward fell an assist shy of a triple-double, finishing with 23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. The Jazz will enter the offseason with plenty of questions unanswered, chief among them: • What will happen to Corbin, who in his fourth year as the franchise’s head coach is without a contract beyond this season? • Will Hayward, a restricted free agent, the team’s leading scorer and one of five players in the NBA this year to average 16 points, five rebounds and five assists, be back in a Jazz uniform next season? • And can this young roster eventually be shaped into a winner? But following Monday’s victory, in which the Jazz shot 49 percent and out-rebounded the Wolves 60-45, this Jazz team does know a few things. Firstly, they know better where they’ll stand in the May lottery. The Jazz entered the night guaranteed no better than the fourth-worst record in the NBA — and therefore the fourth-best shot at the top pick in the June draft. With the Boston Celtics falling to the Washington Wizards in their season finale, the Jazz and Celtics finish with identical records. Each of those two teams will have roughly a 33 percent shot at landing a top-three pick and roughly a 10 percent chance of taking the No. 1 choice overall. Secondly, they know they are not the worst Jazz squad since the franchise moved to Utah. That distinction still belongs to Adrian Dantley, Ron Boone and the 1979-80 Jazz, the first in the Utah era, a team that won just 24 games. With Wednesday’s win over Minnesota, this iteration of the Jazz finished with a 25-57 mark, narrowly avoiding a place in that historical footnote. The Jazz’s last win was not easily acquired. Utah led by as much as 19 in the first half before squandering the advantage. Early in the third quarter, Minnesota’s Kevin Martin hit a corner-3 to overtake the Jazz at 56-55. In the fourth quarter, the Jazz again owned a double-digit lead. But Martin, who finished with a game-high 36 points, helped lead another comeback. In the second extra period, the Jazz finally took control, ensuring the Wolves finished with a losing record (40-42). Minnesota’s Kevin Love had 19 points on 4-of-15 shooting. Utah forward Derrick Favors was one of three Jazz men with a double-double, finishing with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Jazz center Enes Kanter was kept out of the game because of soreness in his knee. Forward Marvin Williams also missed the season finale due to a knee injury. In their stead, a trio of backup big men took advantage of some extra minutes. Forward Jeremy Evans got the nod in the starting lineup and delivered with 18 points and 11 rebounds on the night. Rookie center Rudy Gobert eight points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots in 14 minutes. And little-used forward Malcolm Thomas had nine points and four rebounds in an expanded role.