SALT LAKE CITY — Quin Snyder saw it coming.
The game wasn’t even two minutes old before Snyder frustratedly called a timeout. He walked out on the court with his arms outstretched and wondered aloud what exactly was going on.
The Utah Jazz’s egregious offenses? They didn’t run back in transition, they failed to box out, and then appeared to stop playing defense after a Minnesota offensive rebound that resulted in a wide-open 3 — not a stellar first couple minutes.
That sequence foretold the rest of Minnesota’s 101-96 win over Utah Saturday at Vivint Arena.
“I think it’s focus as much as anything, however you want to categorize that,” Snyder said. “But this is not something that we’re unaware of; it just has to be important every possession — can’t just be important during certain parts of the game.”
Snyder’s early-timeout message sank in for the first quarter and the Jazz scored 40 points and took a double-digit lead, but it was forgotten from there on out.
Utah scored just 56 points the rest of the way as the Timberwolves walked away with their second win in Salt Lake City this season; the Jazz have lost just four times at home. It’s a good thing Minnesota won’t be making the playoffs.
So what changed from that first quarter to the rest of the game? All the things the Jazz have seen before. The offense was disrupted by a switching defense, they passed up open shots and they turned the ball over. Then on the defensive end, they failed to get rebounds.
“No, this is one we need to watch,” said Mike Conley, who had 19 points and seven assists. “It’s one that is a recurring situation with a lot of teams where they’re trying to crash the glass, trying to get extra possessions, trying to turn us over for easy opportunities in transition because nobody really wants to get into a half court situation with Rudy (Gobert) back there.”
Utah gave up 20 second-chance points and the Timberwolves had 23 points off of 20 Jazz turnovers.
“It’s tough to win when half of their points were from our turnovers and their offensive boards, so tough loss for us,” said Bogdnaovic, who had 30 points in the loss.
Bogdanovic’s math is a little off, but not by much. More than 40% of Minnesota’s total points came directly from Utah errors. Some of those were forced by Minnesota, obviously, but for the most part Utah shot itself in the foot time and time again; and they did that by simply not putting up a shot.
“If we pass up a shot, we pass up an opportunity to make a 3,” Snyder said. “We drive into traffic and then at that point, the percentages go way, way down, particularly for a team that shoots it as well as we do.”
The Jazz passed up open looks all game in order to drive to the rim. The problem was that they rarely got all the way there. That meant either shooting up a midrange floater or trying to swing it cross court, which led to a lot of missed shots and turnovers.
“We just tried to do too much in certain situations and we made plays a half second too late, as opposed to, you know, being on the money with our passes,” Conley said. “Those situations can lead to turnovers and compound mistakes.”
Gobert had five turnovers, Conley had four, and Joe Ingles and Bogdanovic each had three.
Utah found some rhythm late in the game and went on a 12-0 run that was capped off by a Bogdanovic 3-pointer to give the Jazz a 93-92 lead with 3:41 remaining. But the lead was short-lived as Minnesota answered with a 7-0 run of its own to clinch the win.
“We got the stops we needed, we just couldn’t score,” said Gobert, who had 9 points and 17 rebounds. “Sometimes it’s gonna be night like this. The most important thing for us is to watch the film and try to understand what we can do better. It was a weird game, a physical game. They were kind of grabbing, holding and the game kind of went that way and we lost the handle of the game.”