SALT LAKE CITY – Star center Rudy Gobert took advantage of the ejection of Karl-Anthony Towns to dominate on both ends of the floor and lead the red-hot Utah Jazz to a 116-108 home victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Jazz, who are 14-4 since the French big man returned from a knee injury on Jan. 19, seized control of Friday night’s game in the second quarter to go up by double digits at halftime.
The win at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City was marred by controversy, however, because referee Kane Fitzgerald slapped Towns with a second technical foul – and ejected him from the game – for an apparently mild infraction.
Minnesota’s star center, who had never been ejected before, appeared to be tossed from the contest after complaining about the lack of a foul call after scoring over Gobert in the second quarter.
Gobert scored 26 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Jazz, who also got 26 points from guard Donovan Mitchell and 15 from forward Derrick Favors.
The Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins scored a game-high 27 points in a losing effort, while Minnesota point guard Jeff Teague added 25.
Thanks to their torrid stretch over their last 18 games, the Jazz now have a record of 32-30 with 20 games remaining in the season and are just two games behind the Denver Nuggets in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Timberwolves (38-28) are currently sixth in the West but have lost six of their last 10 games and seen their lead over several teams behind them in the standings shrink over the past couple of weeks.