SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Anthony Edwards is making it increasingly tougher for opponents to find a way to stop him.
Edwards had 23 points, nine rebounds, four assists and a career-high five steals to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 101-96 victory over the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.
The rookie guard stayed active on defense and relentlessly pressured the rim on offense, giving Minnesota a much-needed boost at critical junctures. That all-around effort showed up most with his steals. Edwards, a former defensive back in high school, showed great anticipation in disrupting passing lanes. It helped him get out in transition and attack the rim for multiple easy baskets.
“Anything I do defensively is going to translate on the offensive end,” Edwards said.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 24 points and 12 rebounds, and D’Angelo Russell added 23 points for the Timberwolves, who beat league-leading Utah on the road for the second time this season.
As a team, Minnesota tallied 13 steals against the Jazz.
“If we’re giving up that many possessions, you make it virtually impossible,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “You have to almost be perfect in other aspects of the game.”
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 30 points and made seven 3-pointers to lead the Jazz, who lost at home for just the fourth time overall this season. Mike Conley added 18 points and seven assists, and Rudy Gobert grabbed 17 rebounds.
Utah scored only 56 points over the final three quarters after tallying 40 points in the first quarter alone.
“We just couldn’t find a way to score, especially in the second half,” Gobert said. “They played hard, they played with energy and they forced us into a lot of turnovers.”
The Jazz erased an 11-point deficit with a 12-0 run and took a 93-92 lead on Bogdanovic’s 3-pointer with 3:41 left. But Towns put the Timberwolves back ahead with a layup and Minnesota held Utah scoreless until the final seconds.
“We stayed disciplined to what we wanted to do and how we wanted to get the job done and it worked out for us,” Towns said.
The Timberwolves trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half before rallying to overtake the Jazz in the third quarter. Minnesota went ahead for the first time when Jaden McDaniels scored a layup off a steal, putting the Timberwolves up 62-61.
His basket was part of a 20-7 run by Minnesota to open the second half. Edwards punctuated the stretch with a 3-pointer, extending the Timberwolves’ lead to 72-65. His first basket of the fourth quarter gave Minnesota its largest advantage at 92-81.
“He has the ability to make plays not every player can,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “When you see that, you’re inspired.”
Three consecutive 3-pointers from Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale, and Joe Ingles highlighted an 11-0 run that helped Utah take a 23-10 lead midway through the first quarter. The Jazz eventually built a 33-16 lead later in the quarter after going 9 of 15 from the perimeter.
Minnesota clawed back into the game just before halftime when the shots stopped falling for Utah. The Jazz shot just 29% from the field in the second quarter and made only two 3-pointers in that stretch. Edwards made three layups to fuel a 12-2 run that cut Utah’s lead to 58-52 going into the locker room.
Things never got better for the Jazz offensively after halftime.
“It’s another game where we have to learn from our mistakes,” Conley said. “We all had our times in the game where we wish we would have made a different decision or gave a little bit more effort.”
The teams will square off again Monday when Minnesota hosts Utah.
Timberwolves: Edwards has made 140 3-pointers this season, the fourth-highest single-season total for a Minnesota player. ... Minnesota committed zero turnovers during the second quarter. ... The Timberwolves outscored Utah 20-5 in second-chance points. ... Minnesota improved to 4-11 on zero days rest this season.
Jazz: Conley eclipsed 5,000 career assists during the first quarter after dishing out five in the quarter. He now has 5,003 career assists. ... Jordan Clarkson missed three free throws in the first half, marking the first time he has missed multiple free throws in a game this season. ... Utah committed 20 turnovers, which led to 23 points for Minnesota.
ONE REF SHORT
Veteran NBA referee Bill Kennedy went to the locker room after suffering an undisclosed injury in the first half and did not return after halftime. Only two referees — Scott Twardoski and Derek Richardson — worked the rest of the game.
Kennedy was injured during the second quarter in another game he officiated involving the Jazz on February 27. Utah beat Orlando 124-109 in that contest.
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