Wolves’ third-quarter surge sends Jazz to defeat

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 32 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and the Minnesota Timberwolves pulled away for a 101-90 win over the visiting Utah Jazz on Thursday night in Minneapolis.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker finished with 20 points on 8-for-16 shooting for Minnesota, which played without top scorer Anthony Edwards as he recovers from a hip pointer injury. Rudy Gobert posted a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Simone Fontecchio scored 16 points to lead Utah, which did not have Lauri Markkanen because of a hamstring strain. Collin Sexton scored 14 points and Ochai Agbaji had 13. Utah has lost two straight games and six of its last eight.

The third quarter proved to be decisive for the Timberwolves, who outscored the Jazz 35-19 during that period to turn a two-point lead into an 18-point advantage.

Utah pulled ahead 54-51 early in the third quarter after Agbaji made a 3-pointer.

Minnesota, which has won three games in a row and six of its last seven, then took control with a 14-0 run to seize a 65-54 lead.

Alexander-Walker started the run with a 3-pointer. Gobert and Alexander-Walker followed up with back-to-back dunks, and Gobert struck again with an alley-oop dunk off a lob from Mike Conley.

Conley added a 3-pointer and Towns had a dunk to finish off the run.

Utah trailed by double digits for the duration of the fourth quarter. After Keyonte George made a pair of free throws to cut the Jazz’s deficit to 98-85 with 3:28 to play, Towns answered with a 3-pointer to increase the Timberwolves’ lead back to 16 points.

Minnesota held on to a 49-47 lead at the half. Towns had 20 points before the break and the rest of the Timberwolves’ team combined for 29.

Utah jumped to a 19-12 lead in the first eight minutes. Fontecchio made back-to-back shots to finish off the early run and put the Jazz on top by seven.

Minnesota fell behind by as many as 12 points early in the second quarter. Kelly Olynyk drained a 3-pointer off a pass from Sexton to put the Jazz on top 35-23 with 8:50 left in the half.

The Timberwolves responded with a 15-0 run to seize a three-point lead.