The Jazz have been playing with a win-or-go-home desperation for the last 3 weeks. And it’s all come down to one last game.
Al Jefferson had 22 points and 8 rebounds to help Utah keep its playoff hopes alive with a 96-80 victory over the Timberwolves, setting up another must-win game in the season finale.
”It comes down to one game now,” Jefferson claimed. ”It’s a huge game. The only thing we can worry about is what we will be able to control, going out there and trying to take care of the game, and trying to win, and just leave the rest up to the Lakers, I guess.”
Mo Williams had 15 points and seven assists for the Utah Jazz, who needed a win to avoid being eliminated in the Western Conference playoff race.
Derrick Williams had 18 points and 6 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who were missing center Nikola Pekovic as a result of a bruised left calf.
The Utah Jazz entered the night adhering to the postseason picture; down 1 1/2 games to the Los Angeles Lakers with two to play.
For a team that could have as many as 9 expiring contracts this summer, the Jazz are desperately chasing another playoff appearance. Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Mo Williams and Randy Foye all might be looking for new teams when the season ends, with a bevy of young players waiting to assume larger roles next year.
They have won 9 of their last 11 games since a 4-game losing run in the middle of last month threatened to bury them.
Utah didn’t play all that well early, but it was just good to stay on top of a Timberwolves team that is slogging to the finish of another long season. The Wolves shot just 33 percent in the 1st quarter and without Pekovic patrolling the paint they didn’t grab an offensive rebound till late in the 3rd quarter.
A 13-4 run by Minnesota cut Utah’s lead to 3 points late in third quarter, but once more the Wolves had no answer for Jefferson. The former Wolf scored 40 against the Wolves in a 107-100 win on Friday night in Salt Lake City and continued to attack the team’s soft middle on Monday night. He scored 6 straight points after Minnesota’s run to give the Jazz some breathing room again, and they never looked back. Football spreads
”You want to finish up better than that,” Coach Rick Adelman recounted of the home finale. ”I know they’d something to play for, but it was our last home game. I thought we should have had better effort, but we didn’t.”
The Timberwolves have one game left in what has been a miserable, injury-plagued season. They’ll enter this offseason as they have every one since 2004 – with a spot in the lottery coming in June and plenty of questions on the roster and who will be back to lead it. Owner Glen Taylor has been mother on President David Kahn’s future. Kahn has a team option on his contract for next season.