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SALT LAKE CITY — With two losses to them already this season and a critical one late last season, the Jazz didn't have to be reminded of their recent history with the Timberwolves.
Yet there were friendly clues, hints and pointers on what should not be forgotten prior to Utah's 122-100 blowout win over Minnesota on Wednesday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
"The talk was they're a better team than what their record shows," power forward Paul Millsap said, "so we have to come out there and play them like any other team." So the Jazz did just that, falling behind — as has been their penchant against teams good and bad this season — in the early going.
When coach Jerry Sloan called a quicker than usual timeout less than four minutes into the game, in fact, 14-55 Minnesota was up eight at 14-6.
"He don't say too much," Millsap said when asked what Sloan said in the timeout. "He just gives us that look. Got that look on his face. When he gives us that look, we know what to do."
They do, and the Jazz did it Wednesday, knocking off their silly long-distance shooting and eventually pounding it inside to shake the pesky Timberwolves. "We started off the ballgame trying to take all outside shots," Sloan said.
"It looked like we were gonna try to get our (shot attempt) average before we decided to play, and that's always kind of frustrating, to start off like we did. But we got the win. That's the most important thing."
"When we get it in inside, you know, good things happen — like kick it outside to the wide-open shooter, guys pass and cut," Millsap added. "When we do that we're at our best basketball, so it was real important for us to get the ball down low and try to attack them down there."
Millsap led the way with a game-high 21 points, fellow sub Kyle Korver scored a season-high 20 points while shooting 7-for-9 from the field and Carlos Boozer had 19 points and 11 rebounds — his 45th double-double, third-most in the NBA this season — as Utah improved to 44-24.
Banged-up Deron Williams added 11 assists, marking his 21st straight game with at least nine dimes — the longest such in-season streak the league has seen since Mark Jackson did it 29 consecutive times in the 1996-97 season. Moreover, Utah finished with a season-high-tying 15 steals — three by C.J.
Miles, who has at least three in each of his last four games, and a game-high four from backup point Ronnie Price.
"I thought we never we're gonna get one the first half — because they kept shooting layups," Sloan said. The Jazz did actually have five steals during a first half highlighted by a Boozer layup that began with a crosscourt pass to Andrei Kirilenko, who dished down low to Williams for a touch pass to the power forward barreling down the lane.
But five came during a third quarter in which Utah extended its nine-point halftime to lead to 14 heading into the fourth, and five more came during a final quarter in which they led by as many as 27.
"That's why we ended up with 72 points in the paint," said Sloan, whose Jazz led just 30-28 in that department at halftime. "Obviously get some steals, get some layups made a big difference."
The Timberwolves did cut what had been a 24-point Utah advantage to 15 on a Wayne Ellington 3-pointer with 6:33 remaining, forcing Sloan to turn back to Williams despite his having an ankle sprained earlier in the game and a bruised shoulder that will be MRI'd today.
But the Jazz, who visit Phoenix on Friday, quickly pushed their lead back over 20.
And when Millsap stole an errant Ramon Sessions pass and dunked to make it 116-89 with 3:11 left, Williams — whose night included a towering dunk over big man Al Jefferson — was back in the lockerroom getting checked out by a doctor.
"We just kept going," Boozer said. "We kept getting stops, we kept moving the ball offensively, getting rebounds and running.
"Next thing you know, it went from a close game to a not-so-close game."
And another loss to Minnesota was averted.
NOTES: The Jazz now are 9-1 in their throwback green uniforms. ... Utah shot 53.8 percent from the field, improving on its league-leading 49 percent. The Jazz also dished 30 assists, four above their average. ... Minnesota is now 0-28 when trailing after three quarters on the road, Utah 23-1 when leading after three at home. ... Rookie Othyus Jeffers had two points for the fourth time in the four games he's played since joining the Jazz.