Edwards scores 31 and Conley tallies 25 in his return to Utah to help Timberwolves top Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY — Anthony Edwards scored 31 points despite a twisted ankle, Mike Conley added a season-high 25 points in his return to Utah and the Minnesota Timberwolves topped the struggling Jazz 119-100 on Saturday night.

“Somebody’s got to step up every night. It may always look like me, but tonight it was also Mike,” said Edwards, who passed Kevin Love for the most 30-point games in a single season with 26.

Edwards stepped on Taylor Hendricks’ foot while driving and turned his right ankle just before halftime. He got up limping and went straight to the locker room.

“Just had to keep it warm,” he said.

Edwards jumped rope during the break and started the second half, but seemed a bit slower and less explosive.

“Just let the game come to you,” Edwards said. “I was forcing it a little bit but in the second half I found Mike Conley, found Naz (Reid) and Nickeil (Alexander-Walker). Then it made it easy for me to score.”

Edwards made four 3-pointers, a layup and a circus three-point play in the final two quarters to help Minnesota hold off Utah.

“Ant’s been special, honestly. He really has. Just seeing him develop as the season has gone on, it’s been amazing. Like tonight, he made a bunch of plays that he wouldn’t make the first part of the year,” Conley said.

The game marked the first time Conley played in Utah since being traded in February 2023 after four seasons with the Jazz. Saturday’s game was his highest scoring output with Minnesota.

“It’s a perfect storm, trying to fill in for guys and it’s given me a good rhythm. I’ve been aggressive looking for my shots more, getting to the paint more and getting to the free throw line,” said Conley, who made five 3s.

Collin Sexton scored 22 points and Keyonte George added 18 for the Jazz, who have lost four of five. They host Minnesota again on Monday.

“Plain and simple tonight, we did not pass the ball. There’s 30 possessions where you can point out where there’s multiple people open and we’re just forcing it. We’ve got to get back to the understanding of who we’re playing, understanding how they want to guard,” Utah coach Will Hardy said.

George had scored at least 25 points in three straight games but the Timberwolves made a concerted effort to show him extra bodies on drives and force him to give up the ball.

“The intention is great — trying to be aggressive. I think the next step now is to find that balance,” George said.

Naz Reid had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Wolves.

The Jazz were without Jordan Clarkson (groin), Lauri Markkanen (thigh), and John Collins (rest), so the Jazz turned to their younger players and they kept it close until the fourth quarter.

Edwards often has to carry the load for Minnesota, especially without Karl-Anthony Towns who had knee surgery on Tuesday. This time, Conley took some of the pressure off the ailing All-Star by scoring eight points in a 13-0 third-quarter run that gave Minnesota a 68-57 lead.

Omer Yurtseven, who had 14 points, got the Jazz within 93-85 midway through the fourth quarter. But Edwards responded with a 3-pointer and the Jazz had trouble scoring the rest of the way.

“Ant is aggressive and we have a ton of spacing out there particularly without Rudy (Gobert) being on the floor. So it opens up all kinds of things … but what’s been pleasing these last two games is his efficiency,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said.

Edwards made 5 of 7 from 3-point range and 12 of 20 overall.

Former Jazz center Gobert missed the game with sore ribs. Minnesota improved to 2-2 without Gobert in the lineup.


AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba

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