Minneapolis • The Jazz’s defensive challenge will shift to the wings for Friday’s game at the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Utah Jazz had issues corralling Denver’s offense through three quarters, but clamped down and clinched the season-opening win with a 15-minute stretch of fantastic defense in the final quarter.
The Timberwolves boast their own skilled and offensively explosive big man in Karl-Anthony Towns, but Minnesota’s strength lies in its wing play — all-NBA shooting guard Jimmy Butler and athletic Andrew Wiggins.
“They are one of the best wing tandems in the league,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said after Friday morning’s shootaround. “That makes Minnesota one of the most talented teams in the league.”
That puts the onus on Joe Ingles and Rodney Hood to play well. Butler has been one of the NBA’s best two-way players over the last few seasons. Wiggins isn’t the defender Butler is, but he’s a dangerous offensive weapon.
Ingles was good against Denver, doing a little of everything. He scored 11 points, spacing the floor by making 3-pointers.
Hood was limited by a stomach virus, which hampered him on the floor and kept him on the bench for much of Wednesday night’s second half. Hood told The Tribune he’s still not at 100 percent, but he will play Friday night and hopes to play his usual allotment of starter minutes.
“I just think I caught a bug,” Hood said. “I think it may have just been a change in seasons.”
Hood, who turned 25 on Friday, was serenaded by Jazz rookies Donovan Mitchell, Royce O’Neale and Tony Bradley at shootaround. He said Mitchell had the best voice and Bradley the worst.
Friday is Minnesota’s home debut at the Target Center.