SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — D’Angelo Russell scored 20 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, Rudy Gobert had 22 points and 13 rebounds in his return to Utah and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Jazz 118-108 on Friday night.
Gobert was traded to Minnesota over the summer. The French center spent his first nine NBA seasons with the Jazz.
“It was a little awkward walking in the arena with a visitor badge into the visitor locker rooms,” Gobert said. “But it was great. (I) was just trying to embrace the moment.”
The Timberwolves helped Gobert walk away with a victory after Russell took over in the fourth quarter. He went 7 of 7 from the field in the quarter, with six of his baskets coming from 3-point range.
“They were trying to zone us, and I was the guy kind of in the sweet spot to get that catch-and-shoot opportunity,” Russell said. “
Russell ended up going 12-of-16 from the field for the game and is averaging 27.5 points while shooting 56% in December so far.
“He’s really locked in on his shot right now,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said. “It looks clean and he’s letting it go.”
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 trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half before it 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.
Timberwolves: Kyle Anderson had a career-high 12 assists to go with 15 points. … Minnesota went 20 of 26 from the free-throw line.
Jazz: Lauri Markkanen (illness) and Collin Sexton (right hamstring strain) were both inactive. … Jarred Vanderbilt had 10 rebounds off the bench.
Timberwolves: At Portland on Saturday night.
Jazz: At Denver on Saturday night.
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