Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) goes up to the basket as Utah Jazz forward John Collins (20) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Karl-Anthony Towns scored 15 of his season-high 25 points in a dominant third-quarter stretch, and the Minnesota Timberwolves pulled away to beat the Utah Jazz 123-95 on Saturday night.
Anthony Edwards led Minnesota with 31 points: 19 in the first half and 12 in the fourth quarter. Rudy Gobert had 11 points and a team-best 10 rebounds against his former team for his fourth double-double in the first five games.
“There’s things we could do better, obviously, but it’s good to know that we’re at a point right now, five games in, where we got something flowing. Just got to keep building off it,” Towns said.
Lauri Markkanen led the Jazz with 22 points and eight rebounds. He was 4 of 11 on 3-pointers after making a franchise-record 25 through the first six Utah games. Talen Horton-Tucker and John Collins added 14 points apiece.
Utah, which opened a four-game trip, has lost four of five. In seven games, the Jazz have lost three times by at least 16 points.
“A night of a combination of poor decision-making that led to 18 turnovers and then ultimately, a very poor shooting game,” coach Will Hardy said. “Shots will go in or they won’t and there are some nights where it’s ugly in that department. Obviously 12 for 43 from the 3-point is a tough number to overcome, but we’ve got to continue to try to find some connectivity doing what we want to do on both ends of the floor for longer.”
The Timberwolves shot 55.6% and held Utah to 38.5%, the second straight Minnesota opponent to finish under 40%. Minnesota limited Denver to 39% in Wednesday’s 110-89 win.
The Timberwolves have held four of their first five opponents under 100 points. Last season, they did that just four times combined in the regular and postseason.
Minnesota is holding opponents to an NBA-best 42.7% from the field.
“It’s a testament to our coaching staff and the players in this locker room putting effort in on the defensive end,” Towns said.
After the score was tied at 66 midway through the third, Towns made a pair of 3-pointers sandwiched around a 3 from Mike Conley. Towns hit four straight free throws late in a 15-2 run, and another free throw from the 7-foot center made it 88-74 late in the period.
“It was great to see some 3s go in for him because we really need that. We need him to take more,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said. “He’s gotten really good looks for most of the season so far. It was only a matter of time until they go in.”
It was the second straight game in which Utah trailed by 14 in the third quarter. The Jazz rallied in the fourth Thursday but lost 115-113 to Orlando.
Edwards made a 3-pointer early in the fourth period and Conley added a bucket to give Minnesota a 100-79 lead.
A 15-5 run to end the first half, capped by a thunderous dunk from Towns, gave Minnesota a 55-50 lead.
Edwards made his first four shots as Minnesota built an early 11-point lead, but Markkanen hit successive 3s and then a third as part of a 15-6 Jazz run to close out the quarter and get Utah within 29-27.
Jazz: At the Chicago Bulls on Monday.
Timberwolves: Host the Boston Celtics on Monday.