The celebratory antics that aggravated Utah players are likely to be fresh in their minds when the Jazz travel to face culprit Shabazz Muhammad and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
While the Jazz may be seeking more payback Saturday night by winning the second meeting in five days, the Timberwolves will try to keep the Western Conference’s season-worst losing streak from reaching 11 games.
Injury-ravaged Minnesota (5-26) appeared to be nearing the end of its worst skid since dropping 11 in a row from March 30-April 17, 2012, on Tuesday when it led 82-72 at Utah after Muhammad’s back-to-back 3-pointers.
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However, it was the forward’s taunt with 7:11 left that provided motivation for Utah’s late rally. Muhammad, who scored a career-high 30 points, flashed a ‘3 goggles’ gesture to the Jazz bench following one of his five 3s.
”Yeah, we took that personally," forward Derrick Favors said after Utah’s 100-94 win. "When he did that, each of our guys started taking their own matchups personally and we all came out and played harder."
Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke finished with 26 points apiece as the Jazz scored 16 of the final 18. Hayward is averaging 20.6 points while hitting 20 of 33 from 3-point range over his last eight games after scoring 18 in Friday’s 98-92 loss to Atlanta.
”It’s another game – we’ve had many of these before – where we get down in a hole, we fight back, we make it interesting and we fall short," Hayward said Friday after a late 12-1 run fell short.
Burke can’t be pleased with his eight-point performance against the Hawks, shooting 2 for 19 overall and 0 for 11 from 3-point range. He’s totaled 58 points while sinking 5 of 10 from beyond the arc in his past two meetings with Minnesota.
The Jazz (11-22) have allowed 92.5 points per game on 42.9 percent shooting with a plus-7.3 rebounding margin while winning five of eight. Enes Kanter had a team-best 12 rebounds Tuesday when the Jazz held a 43-34 edge on the glass, but he won’t be available after leaving Friday’s game with an ankle injury.
West-worst Minnesota owns a minus-4.4 rebounding margin during its losing streak while playing without injured starters Ricky Rubio (ankle), Nikola Pekovic (foot and wrist) and Kevin Martin (wrist). The Wolves also have the league’s second-worst scoring defense (108.7 points per game), ahead of only the Los Angeles Lakers.
Andrew Wiggins finished with 27 points Thursday, while Gorgui Dieng and Muhammad each added 15 as Minnesota erased a 13-point deficit before losing for the 10th time in 11 home games, 110-107 to Sacramento.
"Some of our younger guys are hitting that wall a little bit," coach Flip Saunders told the team’s official website. "We either have to limit minutes or get other guys in there to make sure we have energy."
Muhammad and Wiggins don’t appear to be among the tiring Wolves. Muhammad is averaging 20.2 points in his last nine contests, while Wiggins is also showing improvement with 21.4 per game on 50.6 percent shooting over his past five.
The 2014 top overall pick scored 21 in the first meeting with the Jazz.
Already missing Alec Burks due to a season-ending shoulder injury, Utah is expected to be without Rodney Hood for at least a week because of a sore left heel and Patrick Christopher for at least six with a dislocated right kneecap.