Hayward's 17 lift Jazz over T-Wolves 106-84

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 3, 2013 at 12:09 am •  Published: January 3, 2013
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Jazz quickly put 2012 in the rearview mirror.

After closing out the year with tough back-to-back losses to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Jazz opened 2013 with an overpowering 106-84 victory over an uninspired Minnesota Timberwolves team on Wednesday.

The Jazz did it despite knowing starting point guard Mo Williams will be out at least another six weeks after opting for surgery on his injured right thumb.

"Our confidence never wavered," said Earl Watson, who stepped up with nine assists in sharing point guard duties Wednesday with Jamaal Tinsley.

"Everybody is a little heartbroken about Mo," added power forward Derrick Favors. "But we know he's going to be all right. We just came out there and played like he was with us."

It helped that Tinsley shot 6 of 8 and finished with 12 points.

It also helped that Paul Millsap, who had seen his playing time diminish with the emergence of Favors, started 7 of 7 and finished with 14 points as his coach experimented with rotations.

And it helped that Andrei Kirilenko, facing his former team for the first time since signing with Minnesota, couldn't keep his own hot streak going.

Kirilenko received a warm round of applause from fans during introductions and started 3 of 3 but finished with just 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting.

"It was nothing personal," Watson said of giving Kirilenko a rude homecoming. "We needed a win and Andrei happened to be on the other team."

Gordon Hayward scored 17 points off the bench to lead the Jazz and Enes Kanter added 15, with eighth rebounds as Utah snapped a three-game losing streak.

The only bad news, besides the lengthy loss of Williams, is that Kanter sprained his right ankle in the closing moments of the blowout win and will be a game-time decision Friday at Phoenix.

Otherwise, there wasn't much Minnesota players could say after shooting a season-low 35.5 percent from the field, including a season-low 2 of 17 from 3-point range.

"We need to take a rest right now and kind of get back on track," said Kirilenko, who spent 10 seasons in a Jazz uniform before leaving as a free agent two years ago.

"It's just one of those games where . you can't make a shot five or six possessions in a row, you couldn't put it in on a layup, you couldn't get to the line. It's all together kind of like an avalanche."

Minnesota made only 12 of 40 shots in the second half. Overall, they were outscored 56-36 in the paint and 25-8 on the break.

Utah (16-17) trailed by one after the first quarter but opened the second on a 15-4 run and the third on an 11-0 run.

The Jazz led by as many as 20 in the third quarter, and unlike last week when they blew a 19-point lead against the Los Angeles Clippers, they kept pouring it on.

Six Jazz players scored in double figures, the kind of effort they will need if they hope to climb back into the playoff picture.

"I thought defensively we did a pretty good job, especially on some of their big guys," Hayward said. "That also spawned us some easy fast-break points, which we haven't really been getting. We talked about that before the game. That was crucial for us."