Burke catches fire, leads Jazz to win over reeling Wolves
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Timberwolves were on the clock with the ninth pick in the draft in 2013 and Trey Burke was there for the taking.
Wolves President Flip Saunders decided to trade the pick to Utah and received a nice return in promising forward Shabazz Muhammad and center Gorgui Dieng. Burke donned a Wolves cap on draft night before the trade became official, and the erratic point guard seems to have something extra in the tank every time the Jazz face Minnesota.
Burke bounced back from a horrendous shooting night to score a season-high 28 points, and the Jazz handed the Timberwolves their 11th straight loss with a 101-89 victory on Saturday night.
"He’d be first team all-league if he played against us all the time," Saunders said. "Maybe I should’ve drafted him based on how he’s played against us."
After going 2 for 19, including 0 for 11 from 3-point range, against Atlanta on Friday, Burke hit 10 of 16 shots and 4 of 6 3-pointers. Rudy Gobert added 13 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks to help the Jazz roll on the second night of a back-to-back. The Jazz (12-22) have won six of their last nine games.
"I don’t think it’s just Minnesota, I’m just aggressive," Burke said. "When teams fall back in pick-and-roll I’m able to get into the paint and make decisions. A lot of times teams press up and I’m still trying to find ways to be aggressive in those situations."
Andrew Wiggins scored 20 points, but the Timberwolves shot just 39.5 percent and missed 10 of their first 11 3-pointers to fall to 5-27. They have won just once in their last 18 games.
The Wolves had Friday off to prepare for the game, but they were lifeless from the start. The Jazz opened a 20-point lead in the third quarter and cruised to an easy win.
The Jazz shot 50.7 percent, hit 11 of 20 3s and outrebounded Minnesota 47-37. Derrick Favors had 15 points and eight rebounds.
"That’s probably about as bad a loss as we’ve had in a long time, at least that I’ve been associated with," Saunders said.
The short-handed Wolves have been desperate for a victory during this terrible slide and figured to have a good chance against a Jazz team that arrived in town early Saturday morning. Utah also lost big man Enes Kanter (sprained right ankle) and starting shooting guard Patrick Christopher (dislocated right patella) to injuries in a physical game against the East-leading Hawks.
The Wolves have played much of the season without starters Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin, but that was no excuse against a young Jazz team that was struggling with injuries of its own. As usual, the Wolves lacked energy at the start of the game and their opponent took advantage.
Utah hit 8 of 12 3-point attempts through the first 32 minutes of the game and blew the doors open with a 15-2 run early in the third quarter.
A brief flurry by Mo Williams, who scored 20 points, helped the Wolves trim the deficit to eight points early in the fourth. But the defensively inept group couldn’t find an answer for Burke, who had a long talk with coach Quin Snyder on the flight from Utah to Minnesota.
"He’s got a lot of pride and the way he played tonight was more than just making shots," Snyder said. "He did that, but I thought he did a really good job of distributing and controlling the game."
Jazz: Burke entered the night averaging 18.4 points per game against the Timberwolves. He scored 26 against them last week. … Joe Ingles started at shooting guard for the injured Christopher. … Trevor Booker had 15 rebounds and eight points. … The Jazz recalled Toure’ Murry from Idaho of the NBDL.
Timberwolves: Reserve F Chase Budinger missed the game with an illness. … Dieng was the only other Wolves player in double figures with 10 points.
Saunders said after the game that he planned on making a change to the starting lineup after the group of Wiggins, Muhammad, Dieng, Thaddeus Young and Zach LaVine got off to another slow start. Young had just one rebound in the game and Saunders said he wanted to see more energy from Muhammad and LaVine.
"We talked to our team afterward just about what it is to be professional," Saunders said. "It’s everyone’s responsibility, players, coaches, everybody. It was disappointing."
Jazz: Host Indiana on Monday.
Timberwolves: Host Denver on Monday.