SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – It was a triumphant return to Utah for Rudy Gobert.
The former Jazz star had 22 points and 13 rebounds against his former team, while D’Angelo Russell scored 20 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, as the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Jazz 118-108 on Friday night.
Rudy Gobert was traded Minnesota over the summer. The 3-time NBA All-Star and 3-time Defensive Player of the Year spent his first nine NBA seasons with the Jazz.
“It was amazing,” Gobert said about his first game at Vivint Arena as part of the visiting team. “It hard for me to go through all the emtions because I was so focused on the game. But just hearing the love and all the fans saying cool things to me, and booing me at the free throw line, which I respect.”
Malik Beasley scored 23 points to lead Utah. Jordan Clarkson added 21 points and Mike Conley had 17 points and six assists in his first game back after being sidelined for nine games by a left leg injury.
Conley’s return helped bolster the Jazz offense at key moments in the second half.
“He just moves the ball. Spacing is different,” Beasley. “He’s a great veteran. We love him on the team.”
Utah erased a double-digit deficit in the third quarter, tying it at 79 on Conley’s 3-pointer. The Jazz were unable to reclaim the lead after missing five straight shots to end the quarter.
Minnesota finally created some breathing room again late in the fourth quarter when Russell made back-to-back 3s to put the Timberwolves up 112-104.
“If you’re down 15 in the NBA it takes a lot of energy to come back and so sometimes at the end of the game you just don’t quite have the juice to get over the top,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said.
Gobert got into a little dust-up with Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt at the end of the game after Gobert scored on a basket in the finals seconds with the game well in hand.
“Just disrespectful,” Beasley said. “It’s one of the unwritten rules of basketball. I told him that.”
“I’ve been taught to play basketball until the last second,” Gobert said. “For me there was never any intent to disrespect anybody. I didn’t get to shake hands with my guys which kind of killed my moment a little bit. But it is what it is. Some guys just want attention.”
Utah played its second straight game without leading scorer Lauri Markkanen, while Collin Sexton missed the game with a hamstring strain.
The Jazz (15-13) next head out on the road to take on the Denver Nuggets Saturday night.