Utah Jazz lose to Minnesota in home opener

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Dec. 27, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah Jazz lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves 116-111 in Saturday’s home-opener.

“It’s good that we have one now because we’re going to have to realize that we have to come out with same intensity and same urgency every night,” Center Rudy Gobert said, by way of a news release.

The Timberwolves had the Jazz on their heels early at Vivint Smart Home Arena, the news release said. Minnesota led by 15 at halftime thanks to 11-of-20 shooting from beyond the arc and 12 Utah turnovers that led to 17 points in the half.

“They took us out of a lot of our actions,” Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said after scoring 21 points in defeat. “That’s what changed everything. We have to be able to withstand that and find ways to use that against them. Give credit to them for coming out and being the aggressor. We waited too long. It’s tough to come back from a 17-point deficit.”

The Jazz were led by 23 points from sixth man Jordan Clarkson. Gobert had 18 points and 17 rebounds.

For Minnesota, guard D’Angelo Russell led all scorers with 25 points. No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Edwards added 18 points, the news release said.

After falling to 1-1 on the young season, Jazz point guard Mike Conley said his squad will be ready to respond.

“We would much rather come out with the W and not have to learn our lessons in this fashion,” he said. “But we have to learn that teams are going to come out and give their best shot, night in and night out. We have to come with a better sense of urgency from the tip. They came out with great energy on both ends of the floor. We have to be better than that. I think we will. We’ll learn from it.”

There were 1,500 fans in attendance on Saturday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena — the largest crowd the Jazz have seen since the league’s shutdown last March.

“We want fans to be in the building,” Conley said before the game. “Obviously, as safely as possible. As long as they’re following the protocols and the guys on our team and staff and families are following strict protocols, it’s needed for the community to get back involved with our team. But I cannot stress enough the importance of doing the right things now.”

Afterward, the point guard called the fan presence “a breath of fresh air.”

“It sounded like there were a lot more than that,” he said. “It was great to have them in the building. It’s great to have our families in the building. It was just a great atmosphere, as it always is. One of the best in the league. We’re looking forward to more games like that.”

The Jazz will travel to Oklahoma City for a Monday night matchup with the Thunder. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. MT.

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