Take Minnesota (#709)
The Utah Jazz had lost four straight before knocking off lowly Brooklyn on Saturday Night. They did it without elite defensive center Rudy Gobert in the lineup ' he's out till mid-December. Make no mistake about it ' this is an impact injury for a guy who is averaging a double double while providing a serious shot blocking threat from the low post.
Utah's quotes following the game have a real 'fat and happy' feel to them following the end of their losing skid, despite the fact that the win came over the Nets. Derrick Favors: 'We definitely needed this one. 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."
Despite the Jazz strong defensive reputation and even with Gobert in the lineup, the Jazz had allowed 48% shooting and 108 points per game against them in their previous five contests, bad news with the high scoring Timberwolves coming to town; a Top 10 team in offensive efficiency. And the T-wolves enter this game in a nasty mood, with something to prove following ugly losses to the Warriors and Suns in their last two contests.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau, following the ugly loss to the Suns in which Minnesota allowed a pair of 35 point scorers: "We've got to execute and we didn't execute. We got the lead and we gave it away. We took some tough shots and we just couldn't stop them." Expect a better defensive effort here, and better three point shooting as well, after the T-wolves managed to hit just 9-46 from beyond the arc in their last two ballgames. Look for a focused effort from the road favorite, start to finish. Take the T-wolves.