Utah leans on league-best defense to turn back Minnesota and win third in a row
George Hill led the Jazz with 24 points, eight rebounds and four assists. AP

UTAH Jazz turned up the defense late to hold off the Minnesota Timberwolves, 112-103, at Target Center on Monday (Tuesday, Manila time).

The Jazz nabbed their third straight win after surviving a tightly-contested match against the Timberwolves, pulling away in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter after Minnesota clawed back from an 11 point deficit in the third quarter to take the momentary lead, 83-82, with 7:47 left.

Rodney Hood scored five while Rudy Gobert anchored the defense in a telling 11-0 run for the Jazz to take the lead, 93-83, with 4:47 remaining. Then George Hill and Gordon Hayward took charge the rest of the way, knocking down crucial baskets and free throws to keep the Jazz at bay.

Utah’s top-ranked defense also helped Minnesota’s young gunners Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins to a miserable shooting performance. Both Timberwolves stars missed 10 attempts each, as Towns was 8-of-18 to finish with 19 points, while Wiggins shot 6-of-16 to end up with 13 markers.

Hill and Hayward each scored 24 to lead Utah, while Gobert had 16 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks. The Jazz improved to a 10-8 card.

Minnesota fell to 5-12 after losing two in a row despite having six players in double figures. Zach LaVine had 28 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. Ricky Rubio and Gorgui Dieng added 11 apiece, and Shabazz Muhammad had eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @spinph