Hayward scores 39, leads Jazz to 120-113 win over Wolves

FILE - Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) shoots as Utah Jazz guard Dante Exum (11) defends during the first half in an NBA basketball game Friday, April 7, 2017, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Gordon Hayward scored a career-high 39 points and the Utah Jazz rallied from an 11-point deficit to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 120-113 on Friday night.

Hayward and Joe Johnson powered a 40-point third quarter in which the Jazz came from behind and took the lead for good with a 16-7 run. Hayward scored 30 in his second consecutive game and Johnson threw in 22 off the bench. The pair combined to shoot 8 for 10 from behind the arc.

Every time Minnesota got close in the final minutes, Hayward hit a jumper to extend the lead.

The defensive-minded Jazz shot 60 percent from the field as they were forced to outscore the Timberwolves with the defense lacking.

Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves with 32 points and 13 rebounds, and Ricky Rubio added 26 points. Andrew Wiggins finished with 25.

The Timberwolves led 60-55 at halftime and were ahead by 11 midway through the second quarter. An 11-4 run punctuated by Kris Dunn’s 3-pointer pushed the lead to double digits, but the Jazz answered with a 13-2 stretch to tie things at 51 apiece.

TIP-INS

Timberwolves: Minnesota shot 51.4 percent in the first half, but allowed the Jazz to shoot 56.8 percent. … The 113 points were the most scored against the Jazz this season.

Jazz: George Hill (groin) and Raul Neto (groin) did not play. … Derrick Favors (knee) returned after missing the last 14 games and scored 13 in 15 minutes.

PLAYOFF IMPLICATIONS

The Jazz increased their lead over the Clippers for the No. 4 Western Conference playoff seed to one game.

BIG KAT

Towns, the reigning Rookie of the Year, was not an All-Star in his sophomore season, but coach Tom Thibodeau said his star center has improved in every way this season. His points, rebounds, assists and 3-point shooting have all increased.

“He’s scoring in so many different ways,” Thibodeau said. “Back to the basket, catch-and-shoot, pick-and-roll. In transition, he can handle the ball. Has great touch. Can shoot the 3. Probably hasn’t gotten to the line as much as we would like, but I think that will come in time.

“The rebounding has been off the chart all year and the defense is something he continues to work on.”

UP NEXT

Timberwolves: Minnesota travels to face the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

Jazz: Utah travels to face a Portland Trail Blazers team fighting for the last Western Conference playoff spot on Saturday.

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