MINNEAPOLIS — The Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves both trudged into Target Center with heavy legs and foggy heads.
In the end, Gordon Hayward and the Jazz found just enough gas to get a much-needed victory.
Hayward scored 16 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and the road-weary Jazz finished a five-game road trip with a 93-84 victory over the Timberwolves on Saturday night.
"I tried to drink a bunch of fluids and kick start so I can get some type of energy," said Hayward, who had just two points on 1-for-6 shooting in the first three quarters. "It’s hard to find it. I’m just glad we got the win."
Hayward shot 6 of 9 in the fourth and Derrick Favors chipped in 19 points and five rebounds to get the Jazz a much-needed victory as they make a push for the playoffs. The Jazz (36-37) moved into a tie with Houston for seventh in the Western Conference and have won seven of their last nine.
Ricky Rubio scored 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting and Karl-Anthony Towns had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who missed a chance for their first three-game winning streak since Nov. 27. The Wolves shot 38 percent and fell to 2-12 on the second night of a back-to-back.
"The thing I like about our guys, the focus was there, the effort was there," Wolves coach Sam Mitchell said. "The bodies just weren’t there."
Rodney Hood scored 15 points and Trey Lyles made three of five 3-pointers on his way to 15 points for the Jazz, who have rediscovered their stingy defense after the All-Star break. They have held eight of their last 10 opponents under 100 points.
They were facing a Timberwolves team coming off of an exhausting double-overtime win over the Wizards in Washington on Friday night. All five starters played at least 40 minutes, with Towns playing nearly 48 and Rubio and Zach LaVine both topping 44, and they didn’t land back in Minneapolis until 1:20 a.m.
The teams combined to go 2 of 16 from the floor to open the game, and the Jazz didn’t score until five minutes had passed in the first quarter. Utah led 35-34 at the half, the first time in an NBA game this season that neither team had scored at least 36 points in the first two quarters.
After being held to six points in 23 minutes against the Thunder, Hayward again struggled to get good looks early against Andrew Wiggins. But with Wiggins on the bench to start the fourth, Hayward converted two three-point plays and hit a 3-pointer in a 9-0 run that put the Jazz up by 11.
"He’s hard to guard once he gets going so we made an emphasis to give him the ball in transition and let him go to work," Hood said. "Throughout that whole time, we got stops while he was taking the game over."
Wolves owner Glen Taylor announced on Friday that GM Milt Newton would remain in that position through the draft and free agency to allow Taylor to fully evaluate his performance. Newton was elevated to primary decision-maker when Flip Saunders died just before the season began. On Saturday, Taylor issued a statement saying he was encouraged by the team’s progress down the stretch.
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"I am very excited about the development of our young core and the direction we are headed," Taylor said. "We have seen a lot of individual progress this season and I look forward to our continued growth as a team."
Jazz: The 10 points allowed in the first quarter was a season best. … The Jazz went 6 for 7 from the free throw line, a season low for attempts. … They finished 3-2 on the road trip.
Timberwolves: Gorgui Dieng struggles more than any other Minnesota player on the second night of a back-to-back. After hitting a huge 3 and two clutch jumpers in the overtime to beat the Wizards, he had just four points and three rebounds in 30 minutes. … Rubio had six assists, five rebounds and four steals.