Preview: Wolves at Jazz

November 13, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY -- Can the Utah Jazz survive without Rudy Gobert?

Like it or not, Utah is about to discover the answer to that question. Gobert is expected to be sidelined 4-to-6 weeks after an MRI exam revealed a right tibia contusion. He suffered that injury on Friday when Heat guard Dion Waiters rolled into his knee during the third quarter of an 84-74 loss to Miami.

Gobert limped to the locker room, but returned to the game in the fourth quarter. He did not play on Saturday in a 114-106 win over Brooklyn and will be sidelined again when the Jazz host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.

The 7-foot-1 center is averaging 13.9 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 12 games this season.

Utah (6-7) started off on a promising note by defeating the Nets. Derrick Favors stepped up in Gobert's absence, scoring 24 points and collecting 12 rebounds -- both season highs -- for his second double-double of the season.

"We definitely needed this one," Favors said. "We came together as a team. We just went out there and played with a lot of energy. Rudy (Gobert) was out, so it was a team effort, defensively, offensively. We came in and brought a lot of energy, and won the game."

Favors is no stranger to the disruption injuries can cause. Back and knee injuries plagued him over the past two seasons and robbed the veteran forward of valuable athleticism. Those injuries also reduced his role in the offense last season.

For the Jazz to succeed without Gobert, Favors will have to continue to make a big impact on both ends of the floor. That's what Utah got from him against Brooklyn.

The floor is spaced differently when he is at the five," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "We're small. That being said, whatever the floor looks like, what he did, on both ends of the floor, I think he knew how much we needed him and we rode him."

The Timberwolves (7-5) are looking for ways to strengthen a suddenly porous defense when they face the Jazz.

Minnesota fell 118-110 to Phoenix on Saturday to fall to 0-2 on its current road trip. In those two games, the Timberwolves have allowed an average of 121.5 points while allowing their opponents to shoot 55 percent from the field.

It's a 180-degree turn from how Minnesota started November, when it held three straight opponents under 100 points. The reversal could best be summed up in a late fourth-quarter sequence against the Suns.

The Timberwolves took a 103-97 lead on a 3-pointer from Jeff Teague with 4:46 left. Then, Phoenix put together a decisive 14-0 run behind several baskets from Devin Booker and T.J. Warren. The duo scored 35 points apiece and had 22 of the Suns' 33 fourth-quarter points.

"We've got to execute and we didn't execute," Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We got the lead and we gave it away. We took some tough shots and we just couldn't stop them."

Three-point shooting has also been a growing concern over the past two games. The Timberwolves shot a combined 9 of 44 from the perimeter in their losses to Golden State and Phoenix.

Minnesota defeated Utah 100-97 on Oct. 20, behind 17 fourth-quarter points from Jamal Crawford. The veteran guard, who signed with the Timberwolves in the summer, hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 27.5 seconds left.