MINNEAPOLIS (ABC4 Sports) – Rudy Gobert dominated the boards, but missed two key free throws, and the Jazz won the game.
In its first game against its all-star center, the Jazz got 29 points from Jordan Clarkson and 24 from Lauri Markkanen in a 132-126 overtime win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Gobert, who played the first nine years of his NBA career with Utah, grabbed 23 rebounds, but missed two potential game-tying free throws in the final minute of the extra period.
Clarkson scored 29 points on 7-for-12 shooting from 3-point range to lead Utah’s rally, while Markkanen, who had 24 points and 13 rebounds, hit a leaner in the lane to fall with 12 seconds left in overtime to put the Jazz up by four.
Mike Conley gave the Jazz the lead for good with a 3-pointer with 1:01 left. Gobert had a dunk foiled by a foul on Conley with 34 seconds to go, and he missed both free throws to finish with nine points and 23 rebounds.
“That’s Mike,” Jazz head coach Will Hardy said. “He wants to win. He’s willing to put his body on the line when he has to.”
Anthony Edwards scored 30 points, Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points and D’Angelo Russell added 23 points including the tying jumper with 4.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Jaylen Nowell pitched in 18 points for the Timberwolves, who led by as many as 17 points in the first half.
Clarkson and Kelly Olynyk — who had 21 points — made a pair of 3-pointers apiece during a 12-2 spurt that gave the Jazz a 120-113 lead, but they didn’t score over the final 1:54 of regulation.
Gobert’s three-point play with 44 seconds to go brought the Timberwolves within two, when he grabbed his own miss, drew the foul on Olynyk and let out a primal scream from the flex pose.
When Markkanen missed a jumper on the other end, Olynyk was called for a foul in the rebound tangle with Towns. Russell faked Conley to the floor with a killer crossover to set up his pull-up bank shot that tied the game.
The trade that sent Gobert to Minnesota and a package of four players and five first-round draft picks to Utah was only part of the offseason makeover for the Jazz, who made the playoffs in each of the last six years but never made it past the second round.
After an eye-opening 21-point victory in their home opener over Denver, the Jazz delivered a promising follow-up against another 2022 playoff team. They trailed 15-3 out of the gate and by 16 points midway through the second quarter, before Markkanen and Olynyk began giving the Timberwolves a fair fight in the paint with help from Jarred Vanderbilt and rookie Walker Kessler.
“They understand that based on what certain people say about them that we are sort of an underdog, and I like that our team has a chip on their shoulder,” Hardy said.
Malik Beasley and Vanderbilt were two of the key role players Minnesota sent to Utah for Gobert, and their return to Minnesota was acknowledged with a brief welcome during pregame introductions. Rookie Walker Kessler got one from the public address announcer, too, even though he spent only one full day in Minnesota and barely a week on the roster after he was drafted out of Auburn and included in the trade as one of the first-rounders.
The Jazz next play at New Orleans Sunday at 5:00 p.m.